Radiocarbon dating samples

The following types of sample have been commonly radiocarbon dated: Since the 1950's, a number of researchers have concentrated on investigating and reducing the effects of this post-depositional contamination.

Libby realized that the residual carbon 14 of some samples would be thus affected and suggested that some materials would be more accurate for dating than others.

He predicted that charcoal would be the most effective, shell, the least.

We are always seeking to keep turn-around times to a minimum but some delay is inevitable because of the complexity of the dating process and because of fluctuations in demand.

The current estimated turnaround time for commercial samples submitted now is: Samples should be well protected in packaging that is not likely to contaminate the samples.

When the C14 method was originally developed, Libby and his research team had to assume that the ratios of the carbon isotopes they were measuring had been altered only by 14C decay (Taylor, 1987:3) and that the sample material accurately represented the event to be dated.

Sample materials deposited in archaeological or geological contexts seldom remain in pristine condition, of course, they are often degraded and altered chemically.

This section covers the submission of standard sample types.

If you are a scientist interested in submission of pre-prepared material or joint research projects, please contact the laboratory.

Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.

The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.

Please see section on sample section and identification to determine the types of material suitable for analysis and for information on restrictions on what we can date.