• A Consideration of Some Basic Ideas for Quality Assurance in Radiocarbon Dating

      Switsur, Roy (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      Most radiocarbon ages are readily accepted by researchers in all disciplines. It is recognized, however, that discrepancies appear in the literature. These problems have been highlighted by the International Collaborative Study. The introduction of quality control and assurance techniques used in some laboratories for many years could reduce or eliminate aberrant results. I present here some of the basic considerations of this approach in the processes of conventional radiocarbon dating.
    • High-Precision Intercomparison at IsoTrace

      Beukens, Roelf P. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      I conducted a high-precision comparison at the 0.2% to 0.3% level with samples supplied by the radiocarbon laboratory of the Quaternary Research Center at the University of Washington (QRC). Four samples with ages ranging from modern to > 50,000 BP were dated in a blind test. The absence of cosmic-radiation background in AMS dating is a major advantage for dating samples > 35,000 BP. The reliability of AMS dates > 35,000 BP depends entirely on understanding the contamination processes. By comparing results with laboratories capable of sample enrichment, such as QRC, it is possible to identify and estimate the intrinsic 14C in the background samples as well as the contamination introduced by sample preparation.
    • Intercalibration of Environmental Isotope Measurements: The Program of the International Atomic Energy Agency

      Gonfiantini, Roberto; Rozanski, Kazimierz; Stichler, Willibald (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      We briefly present here the environmental isotope intercalibration programs of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In fact, the IAEA has implemented two parallel programs during the last 20 years: for stable isotopes of light elements and for a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, tritium. This IAEA activity resulted in the preparation of a number of reference and intercomparison materials of various types, now stored in the Agency and available upon request.
    • International Collaborative Study: Structuring and Sample Preparation

      Cook, G. T.; Harkness, D. D.; Miller, B. F.; Scott, E. Marian; Baxter, M. S.; Aitchison, T. C. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      The success of any intercomparison exercise depends largely on participation and cooperation of a sufficient number of laboratories and the selection of a suitable suite of samples. Unless the latter is satisfactorily devised, the former cannot be guaranteed. The hierarchical nature of this study has necessarily resulted in a far more comprehensive set of sample types than has previously been employed. The exercise was structured to satisfy the following criteria: 1) to enable the participating laboratories to assess the experimental precision and accuracy of the component stages of the dating process; 2) samples should be typical of those routinely dated by the laboratories. This takes on a particular significance in Stage 1 where they should resemble as closely as possible the counting medium; 3) an objective statistical analysis of the results at each component stage of the study.
    • Radiocarbon Dating Problems Using Acetylene as Counting Gas

      Geyh, Mebus A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      An investigation of inconsistent Hannover results in the International Collaborative Study (ICS) led to the conclusion that the main reason was contamination of the acetylene used as counting gas with recent and/or fossil carbon by the lithium used for its preparation. Despite the high level of purity of the lithium guaranteed by the producer and storage under argon in cans, different charges were partly covered with contemporary lithium carbonate and fossil oil sometimes was used to preserve the metal. Thorough cleaning of the surface of the lithium rods decreased the contamination but did not remove it entirely, which is evidenced in the wider scatter of the counting rates of various background gases than that of radiocarbon-free tank acetylene. As a result of the high risk of contamination with fossil and/or recent carbon from the acetylene counting gas, the high price of lithium, and the time-consuming preparation, the Hannover 14C Laboratory will use carbon dioxide instead of acetylene as counting gas in the future.
    • Routine Checks in the Uppsala Conventional 14C Laboratory to Achieve Reliable Results

      Olsson, Ingrid U. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      I describe here a series of routine self-checks that the Uppsala 14C laboratory performs with all measurements. We estimate all uncertainties in the physical measurement of a sample. We study long-term stability, calculate mean values for oxalic acid and background and compare expected and real statistical distributions of uncertainties. To reduce the risk of bias, the samples from each series are almost exclusively run on the same counter. Some samples are, however, run on two or more counters to check the possible bias to achieve reliable activity comparisons with other laboratories. It is always possible to trace which counter is used, since different number series are used for different counters.
    • Sources of Random Error in the Debrecen Radiocarbon Laboratory

      Hertelendi, Ede (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1990-01-01)
      A new high-pressure methane-filled counter system for 14C dating was installed in 1986 when the first stage of the International Collaborative Study (ICS) started. Random errors in the new measuring system and in the process of chemical pretreatment and preparation were checked during the three years of intercomparison. Results show that the most important source of error in our laboratory is gas contamination. This causes variation of the count rate to exceed the statistically expected variability. Other sources of error are also discussed and limits of their contributions are given.