In addition to taking an active part in a number of research projects, the laboratory carries out age measurements under contract to Historic Environment Scotland.
We also provide a radiocarbon dating service to national museums, academic staff in a large number of universities worldwide, and many UK and European commercial archaeology units.
The stable C12 and C13, and the unstable or radioactive Carbon 14. Only one C14 atom exists for every one trillion C12 atoms.
Nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere are struck by cosmic radiation and create C14 atoms.
We can also provide the following, with or without radiocarbon dating: We also have an expert in pottery identification (Derek Hall: email Derek) associated with the laboratory.
For measurement of sedimentation rates for recent, accumulating sediment and peat deposits using the Unsupported C analyses and chronological modelling.
Organic matter, being porous, can easily be contaminated by organic carbon in groundwater.
This increases the C12 content and interferes with the carbon ratio.
Hence, the term ‘half-life’ was given to radioactive substances.Some examples of abnormal C14 results include testing of recently harvested, live mollusc shells from the Hawaiian coast that showed that they had died 2000 years ago and snail shells just killed in Nevada, USA, dated in at 27,000 years old.A freshly killed seal at Mc Murdo Sound, Antarctica, yielded a death age of 1300 years ago.Laboratory staff members have several decades of collective experience in radiocarbon dating, thus ensuring good continuity of the quality of the analytical service.Every effort is made to provide a very personal service and most submitters are now well known to the Radiocarbon Laboratory staff. Laboratory personnel are always on hand to provide advice on any aspects of the dating technique.For example, C14 leaches at an accelerated rate from organic material saturated in water, especially saline water.Fourthly, for C14 to test accurately the artefact must have been protected from contamination.A petrified miner’s hat and wooden fence posts were unearthed from an abandoned 19th century gold hunter’s town in Australia’s outback.Results from radiocarbon dating said that they were 6000 years old.The unreliability of carbon 14 date testing is a great concern to honest archaeologists.They get particularly concerned when C14 testing shows obviously inaccurate results and they are left in uncertainty about the reliability of the dates that they have previously never questioned.