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Accelerator mass spectrometry is not dependent upon the radioactive decay.

In 2001, ESS/CGECR researchers Ellen Druffel, John Southon and Susan Trumbore were awarded million by the W. Keck Foundation for the development of an accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) facility – the Keck-Carbon Cycle AMS facility - for radiocarbon measurements in support of carbon cycle research at University of California, Irvine.Selecting the right capability depends on your sample type, or the form in which you wish to send the sample.Radiocarbon dating is performed on a variety of sample types; optimum sample sizes are listed in Table 1 below.For samples such as sediment and DOC in water, the sample size depends on the organic carbon content.Please contact us to discuss these prior to sending samples. The measurement time is much more rapid – you don’t have to sit around and wait for the carbon-14s to decay – and also the precision is better.Well unfortunately, AMS dating is expensive because of the amount of equipment that’s involved and because the sample preparation is a lot more labour intensive.The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is higher than that at any time in the last 420,000 years (figure 1).While the roughly 30% increase in CO also occurred in the past, presumably related to shifts in global climate.This is the key to achieving predictive understanding of the carbon cycle.Figure 1: Carbon dioxide record derived from air bubbles trapped in the Vostock Ice Core, Antarctica(Barnola et al. CO2 levels fluctuated between about 190 and 280 parts per million (ppm, where 1 ppm = 1 molecule of carbon dioxide per million molecules of air). This data shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels now are higher than those in the past 400,000 years.


  1. C and Marine Reservoir Effect in Archaeological Samples from the Northeast Gulf of California. Applying AMS Radiocarbon Dating to Historical Sites.

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