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Tree-ring series offer considerable potential for the development of environment-sensitive proxy records. However, with traditional increment cores, only small amounts of wood are often available from annual tree-ring sequences. For this reason, it is important to understand the reliability (and reproducibility) of radiocarbon measurements obtained from small-sized samples. Here we report the F14C results from the Chronos 14Carbon-Cycle Facility of modern tropical Australian tree samples over a range of four graphite target sizes from the same rings. Our study shows that similar precision can be obtained from full-sized, half-sized, as well as small-sized graphite targets using standard pretreatment and analysis procedures. However, with a decline in sample size, there was an increase seen in the associated variance of the ages and the smallest target weights started showing a systematic bias. Wiggle-matching accuracy tests, comparing the Southern Hemisphere post-bomb atmospheric calibration curve to the different sample weight sequences, were all significant except for the 200 μgC graphite targets. Our results indicate that samples smaller than 350 μgC have limited accuracy and precision. Overall, reliable measurements of F14C sequences from tree-ring records across a range of sample sizes, with best results found using graphitized samples >350 μgC.
The Chronos 14Carbon-Cycle Facility is a new radiocarbon laboratory at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Built around an Ionplus 200 kV MIni-CArbon DAting System (MICADAS) Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) installed in October 2019, the facility was established to address major challenges in the Earth, Environmental and Archaeological sciences. Here we report an overview of the Chronos facility, the pretreatment methods currently employed (bones, carbonates, peat, pollen, charcoal, and wood) and results of radiocarbon and stable isotope measurements undertaken on a wide range of sample types. Measurements on international standards, known-age and blank samples demonstrate the facility is capable of measuring 14C samples from the Anthropocene back to nearly 50,000 years ago. Future work will focus on improving our understanding of the Earth system and managing resources in a future warmer world.
Archaeometrists use a variety of analytical methods to determine trace elements in ancient Greek silver coins, for provenance studies, understanding social and technological change, and authentication. One analytical problem which is little documented is understanding the horizontal spatial heterogeneity of coin elemental composition in micro-sampled areas, which are usually assumed to be uniform. This study analysed ten ancient Greek coins representative of silver circulating in the Aegean region in the sixth to third centuries BC. Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometry was used to map the spatial distribution of elements on coins that were abraded to remove the patina. Time of flight-secondary ion mass spectrometry was then conducted on selected coins, mapping an area ~100 × 100 µm and depth profiling from 0 to 10 µm. These data revealed the three-dimensional elemental complexity of the coins, in particular, the heterogeneity both in the patina and beneath it. These data will guide future authentication and provenance studies of larger sample sets of ancient Greek coins including the use of line scanning for laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry data collection rather than spot analyses, and non-destructive analytical techniques such as X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.
Recent developments in instrumentation mean that chemical analysis of large drill cores taken for geological purposes can be performed rapidly at sub-millimetre scales using core scanners equipped with energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometers. The present study describes the development of a calibration for the Itrax Core Scanner (Cox Analytical, Sweden), intended for whole cores of coal-seam sections, without the need for sample preparation. The calibration was developed for key major elements (Al, Si, P, S, K, Ca, Ti, and Fe) based on pressed pellets of reference coals, allowing semi-quantitative and, at times, quantitative analyses. The influence of core curvature and surface roughness compared with an ideal flat-surface was also examined using model samples, and their influence on the apparent sample composition evaluated.
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