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Preliminary Results for the Extraction and Measurement of Cosmogenic in Situ 14C from Quartz

  • P Naysmith (a1), G T Cook (a1), W M Phillips (a2), N A Lifton (a3) and R Anderson (a1)...

Abstract

Radiocarbon is produced within minerals at the earth's surface (in situ production) by a number of spallation reactions. Its relatively short half-life of 5730 yr provides us with a unique cosmogenic nuclide tool for the measurement of rapid erosion rates (>10−3 cm yr−1) and events occurring over the past 25 kyr. At SUERC, we have designed and built a vacuum system to extract 14C from quartz which is based on a system developed at the University of Arizona. This system uses resistance heating of samples to a temperature of approximately 1100° in the presence of lithium metaborate (LiBO2) to dissolve the quartz and liberate any carbon present. During extraction, the carbon is oxidized to CO2 in an O2 atmosphere so that it may be collected cryogenically. The CO2 is subsequently purified and converted to graphite for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurement. One of the biggest problems in measuring in situ 14C is establishing a low and reproducible system blank and efficient extraction of the in situ 14C component. Here, we present initial data for 14C-free CO2, derived from geological carbonate and added to the vacuum system to determine the system blank. Shielded quartz samples (which should be 14C free) and a surface quartz sample routinely analyzed at the University of Arizona were also analyzed at SUERC, and the data compared with values derived from the University of Arizona system.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Email: p.naysmith@suerc.gla.ac.uk.

References

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Donahue, DJ, Linick, TW, Jull, AJT. 1990. Isotope-ratio and background corrections for accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon measurements. Radiocarbon 32(2):135–42
Gosse, JC, Phillips, FM. 2001. Terrestrial in situ cosmogenic nuclides: theory and application. Quaternary Science Reviews 20:1475–560.
Lifton, NA. 1997. A New Extraction Technique and Production Rate Estimate for In Situ Cosmogenic 14 C in Quartz [PhD dissertation] . Tucson: University of Arizona.
Lifton, NA, Jull, AJT, Quade, J. 2001. A new extraction technique and production rate estimate for in situ cosmogenic 14C in quartz. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 65:1953–69.
Lal, D. 1991. Cosmic ray labeling of erosion surfaces: in situ nuclide production rates and erosion models. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 104:424–39.
Slota, PJ Jr, Jull, AJT, Linick, TW, Toolin, LJ. (1987). Preparation of small samples for 14C accelerator targets by catalytic reduction of CO. Radiocarbon 29(2):303–6.

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