- Sample material labelled as soil, water, plants cannot be accepted from outside the European Union.
δ13C will be measured on the AMS for fractionation correction for the radiocarbon age. δ13C, δ15N and C:N will be run for bones on our EA-IRMS at no extra charge assuming there is sufficient sample material.
Turnaround times are typically between 8 to 14 weeks but please contact us for current times. Turnaround times will depend on sample-type, with some sample-types taking longer to process.
If you plan to submit samples, the Laboratory Manager can assign you a login and PIN.
Once you have a PIN please go to the Online Radiocarbon Sample Submission page and complete your contact and invoice details. When you submit samples please fill in the required details (if weight is not known then estimate or enter 1). You will be assigned a UB number for each sample, which will be used to trace it through the laboratory. Please put this number on your sample package. Please print out the submission sheet, retaining a copy for your records, and send with the samples so we can double check that Sample ID numbers and UB numbers match.
New purchase order requirements
A purchase order is required from institutions and organizations. In the absence of a purchase order advance payment is required but please be sure to include 20% VAT (within the UK).
Please enter the correct purchase order number in the relevant field during sample submission.
Limitation of damages
While we do everything we can to process all samples with care, samples can be lost at any stage of the process.
We cannot be liable for lost samples or the consequences thereof beyond the price paid for the analysis. If possible retain a portion of each of your samples in the unlikely event of loss in shipment or in the laboratory.
Peat (Humic acid fraction to be dated)
Peat (whole peat to be dated)
Wood & Charcoal
As trees can be long-lived, wood and charcoal may have an in-built age associated with them. If possible, either small twigs or outer rings of the tree should be selected for dating. If these are not available, then short-lived species should be selected if possible; identifications must be done before samples are sent for radiocarbon dating.
Because soil is not a ‘closed’ system, it is not a good choice for radiocarbon dating, unless it is for the purpose of carbon storage and turnaround studies. In other words, due to bacterial action and water movement, different carbon compounds may be leached from the soil leaving behind more resistant, older carbon while more recent carbon may be absorbed.
Identifiable macrofossils are the preferred choice for radiocarbon dating in peat bogs. They should be selected and rinsed in deionised, distilled or ultra-pure water and stored in water with a few drops of 10% HCl or dried at low temperature (<60°C). If macrofossils are not available, bulk peat samples can be analysed.
Please remove any roots from bulk samples before sending them. Bulk peat samples should be dried or stored in a cool, dark place. Do not wrap them in aluminium foil because the acidic nature of the peat will cause it to disintegrate.
Marine samples have approximately a 400-year offset from contemporaneous terrestrial samples due to the Marine Reservoir Effect (MRE).
This can be corrected for in calibration using radiocarbon ages of modern (pre-nuclear testing) shells which have been measured for many regions of the ocean. The MRE may also vary over time which adds some uncertainty to the calibrated age range.
The most reliable molluscs to radiocarbon date are bivalves since many of these feed directly on plankton in the ocean although burrowing species should be avoided. Some species of molluscs may ingest limestone which can cause an age offset but may be fine in non-calcareous regions.
The shells of foraminifera are also often radiocarbon dated to provide ages for marine sediment cores. Generally monospecific planktonic samples are selected for this purpose.
Packaging & shipping
Samples should be cleaned and dried (except for peats and sediments which may be sent wet if kept cool and dark). Samples may be sent in plastic sealable bags or glass or plastic vials. Glass vials should be used for samples such as foraminifera or small macrofossils which may build up static electricity and be difficult to remove from plastic vials. Larger samples may be wrapped in aluminium foil if desired, with the exception of peats and soils which may be acidic and react with the foil.
Irreplaceable samples should be sent by registered mail or delivery service.