Accelerator Mass Spectrometry 14C Determination in CO2 Produced from Laser Decomposition of Aragonite

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The determination of 14C in aragonite (CaCO3) decomposed thermally to CO2 using an yttrium-aluminum-garnet doped neodymium laser is reported. Laser decomposition accelerator mass spectrometry (LD-AMS) measurements reproduce AMS determinations of 14C from the conventional reaction of aragonite with concentrated phosphoric acid. The lack of significant differences between these sets of measurements indicates that LD-AMS radiocarbon dating can overcome the significant fractionation that has been observed during stable isotope (C and O) laser decomposition analysis of different carbonate minerals. The laser regularly converted nearly 30% of material removed into CO2 despite it being optimized for ablation, where laser energy breaks material apart rather than chemically altering it. These results illustrate promise for using laser decomposition on the front-end of AMS systems that directly measure CO2 gas. The feasibility of such measurements depends on (1) the improvement of material removal and/or CO2 generation efficiency of the laser decomposition system and (2) the ionization efficiency of AMS systems measuring continuously flowing CO2.

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Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 22, issue 21, p. 3443-3449