Sample Submission

Please send an email to radiocarbon@uottawa.ca prior to shipping.

Address

Carley Crann or Sarah Murseli
A.E. Lalonde AMS Facility, University of Ottawa
Advanced Research Complex (ARC), Rm 447
25 Templeton St., Ottawa ON, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext 6864

Instructions

  • Courier or ship with registered post (tracking number is the key)
  • Classify the material as, "Geologically inert samples for destructive scientific analysis - no commercial value"
  • Dried material is best. Either freeze dried or oven dried (~60°C)
  • Ziploc, Whirlpack, or centrifuge tubes work well
  • Send only the material you want dated

Documentation

 

Price List

A quantity discount of 10% will be applied to submissions of 10 or more samples. Non-profit refers to Canadian academic and government institutions. We accept cheque (preferred), credit card, and wire transfer. For non-Canadian first time users, payment must be received in full before results are released.

Minimum sample sizes are intended for well preserved, clean material. If the sample is too small, it will be submitted for direct combustion. We will notify the user if this is the case.

Code   Sample Size   Cost
    Min Ideal   Non-Profit Commercial
  Refined Material          
G Graphite (please contact us first) 0.2 mgC 1.0 mgC   $120 $170
C CO2 (known pCO2, 15cm x 6mm OD pyrex) 0.2 mgC 1.0 mgC   $180 $250
CX Gas mixture (requires purification) 0.2 mgC 1.0 mgC   $210 $290
D Direct combustion 5 mg 10 mg   $240 $330
Q Swipe (liquid scintillation) consultation required - -   $50 $100
  Charcoal, wood, peat, organics          
A Acid wash only (bulk sediment) 100 mg 500 mg   $300 $410
AAA Acid, alkali, acid (most organics) 50 mg 100 mg   $300 $410
HA Humic acid extraction 100 mg 500 mg   $380 $530
H Humin fraction 100 mg 500 mg   $380 $530
HH Humic/humin on same sample 100 mg 500 mg   $430 $630
  Bone, tooth, antler, ivory          
B AAA + collagen extraction 300 mg 2 g   $425 $585
BU B + ultrafiltration* 500 mg 2 g   $450 $630
CN δ13C, δ15N collagen, GG Hatch Lab       $15 $20
  Shells, carbonates          
S Pre-etch with acid prior to digestion 20 mg 50 mg   $265 $370
SN No pre-etch (forams, powders) 10 mg 20 mg   $265 $370
  Water (sample size depends on carbon content)          
DIC Dissolved inorganic carbon 500 ml 1000 ml   $300 $410
DOC Dissolved organic carbon 500 ml 1000 ml   $380 $525
DIOC DIC/DOC on same sample 500 ml 1000 ml   $600 $835
POC Particulate organic carbon (on quartz filters)       $255 $350
  Skin, parchment, leather, hide, textiles, other          
X Please consult with us       $300 $410

*Ultrafiltration is used to concentrate longer protein molecules and can be used to remove shorter chain proteins more likely to originate from contaminants.

 

Materials

Physical and chemical pretreatments vary depending on the type of material and the depositional environment from which it came. It is important to understand the nature of the material being dated as certain organic fractions are more appropriate than others, depending on the environment. Below is a list of commonly dated materials, the factors that should be taken into account when selecting material, and the pretreatment methods that the samples will undergo prior to radiocarbon dating.


Wood and Charcoal

The radiocarbon age of wood corresponds the year the ring grew. Therefore the most appropriate date will often be from either the outer tree rings or small twigs. Try to ship only dry wood and please remove the bark.

Charcoal samples should be picked out, floated, or sieved from any accompanying sediment. Prior to shipping, please dry charcoal samples for 12-24 hours at temperatures not greater than 70°C.

Please visually inspect your samples and remove any rootlets or other signs of physical contamination. Our chemical pretreatment methods will remove post-depositional carbonates as well as humic acids. Please consult with us prior to sending wood samples that have been treated with shellac, oil, glue, etc.

 

Lake sediments

In many lacustrine environments, macrofossils are the preferred organic fraction used for dating. Macrofossils include charcoal, wood, plant, bone, shell, and seeds – not rootlets. We recommend isolating macrofossils with tweezers or by sieving in distilled, deionized water. Identification should be made prior to shipping. Macrofossils (except shell) will undergo the standard AAA pretreatment.

Bulk sediment can contain carbon from more than one reservoir and occasionally this can lead to a freshwater reservoir effect, such as in hardwater regions or lakes where old carbon is washed in from the catchment during spring melt or floods. Having said that, bulk sediment is widely used for radiocarbon dating, especially in cases when macrofossils are unavailable. If using bulk sediment, be sure to remove rootlets. For bulk samples, some consultation may be needed to determine whether a simple acid wash, AAA method, or compound specific analysis is needed.

 

Peat

Peat can be analyzed as either selected macrofossils or as bulk material. If shipping macrofossils, we recommend they be rinsed in deionised, distilled or ultra-pure (Milli-Q) water to remove residual sediment. Bulk peat samples often contain a silty component and a vegetable component. Both can be dated separately or together. Please remove visible rootlets prior to shipping and do not ship in aluminum foil as it may degrade. Airtight Ziploc bags are recommended. Samples will undergo AAA treatment, unless specified otherwise.

 

Humic acid/humin

Researchers sometimes request to date the humic acid (alkali-soluble) and humin (alkali insoluble) fractions of bulk sediment or peat. The general theory is that humic acids percolate downward and make radiocarbon dates appear younger. However, this is not always the case so it is important to test this method first before pursuing numerous analyses.

 

Shell and other carbonates

Physical pre-treatment of shells involves removal of the outer layer of the shell with a hand drill as well as chalky or recrystallized areas to isolate aragonite only. Chemical pretreatment may include the dissolution of the outermost shell in dilute HCl. Very small or powdered samples will not undergo this stage of pretreatment. 

It is not advised to store powdered carbonates for long periods of time as the large surface area exposes the sample to contamination by atmospheric CO2. If powdering the sample is necessary for sampling by drilling or powdered specific areas, we recommend that this be completed under an inert gas (i.e. N2, AR, etc.). The powdered samples should be stored in small glass vials and shipped to the lab without delay.

 

Bone, Antler, Teeth, Ivory

For the analysis of bone samples, collagen is extracted. Always send clean and dry bone samples as damp samples may contain mould which can cause deterioration of the collagen. Avoid porous (cancellous tissue) or soft bones as these are aslo likely to be low in collagen.

For δ13C and δ15N, we submit the extracted collagen to our partner lab, the GG Hatch Stable Isotope Laboratory. Please indicate on the submision form if you would like stable isotope measurements.

For teeth the dentine is most reliable for dating as the enamel exchanges carbon with the environment. The tooth root (which is dentine) may have better collagen preservation if it was protected for some time in the bone. Dentine also has a high initial collagen content.

 

Waters

Please download our sampling protocol HERE