Browsing Radiocarbon, Volume 32, Number 3 (1990) by Subjects
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Report on Stage 3 of the International Collaborative ProgramThis report on the third and final stage of the International Collaborative Program concentrates on the analysis of internal and external variability of 14C dates obtained from samples involved in the full 14C dating process. Thirty-eight laboratories took part in this stage with most producing 8 14C dates from 3 sets of duplicate material (eg, wood, shell and peat) and 2 single samples of wood of known ages 190 yr BP apart. From the 3 sets of duplicates for each laboratory, the internal precision of most laboratories was adequate; 6 labs grossly underestimated their internal reproducibility. From the 14C determinations from the 5 distinct samples for each laboratory, we discovered significant systematic biases, often greater than 100 years, in 15 laboratories and even accounting for bias, 12 laboratories had significantly greater external variability than explained by their quoted errors. In total, 23 out of the 38 laboratories in this stage of the study, FAILED to meet these 3 basic criteria for an adequate performance in the production of 14C dates.
Sources of Random Error in the Debrecen Radiocarbon LaboratoryA 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.