This method is not without its own inaccuracies and has limited precision, but it does provide dates in terms of calendar years.
A $120 (federally-funded) surcharge applies to high precision analysis (minimum batch size 5 samples). Additional fees may be assessed for preparation of samples not ready for routine processing, samples which yield no analyzable carbon or those withdrawn at client request.
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However, upon death there is no further uptake of carbon and the 14C decays to 12N with a half life of 5730 years.
Measurement of the amount of C remaining in a dead organism will therefore give the date of its death.
Suitable specimens are selected by picking through the residue.
Price depends on the nature of the material and turnaround time required; the basic price for analysis with a turnaround time of less than 3 weeks is £395 plus the cost of sample preparation. C ratio therefore remains in equilibrium with the atmosphere.
This method can be used to radiocarbon date one milligram of carbon or less and has the added advantage that the small sample size permits more selective sampling.
Suitable material includes molluscs, microfossils and wood from terrestrial, non-marine and marine environments.
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