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Collecting Groundwater Samples for Radiocarbon Dating

  • Sample size required - 1 liter of water
  • Recommended container - single-use, one-liter wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle
  • You can also use any type of plastic bottle (HDPE, LDPE, PP). A small-neck bottle will generally seal better than large-neck bottle but both are fine.

How to Collect Groundwater Samples

carbon 14 dating
1. Collect water at the wellhead.

2. Let the water run from the spigot for a few minutes before taking the sample (5-10 minutes is best).

3. Allow the well water to flush out the inside of the bottle thoroughly and then dump the contents prior to ​re​filling.

4. Fill the bottle with as little head space as possible but leave the neck of the bottle empty to allow for any expansion during shipment.

5. Place a tape seal around the cap/bottle joint to ​​​prevent exchange or loss of CO2 from the water.

Other Recommendations and Reminders

bottle image
- Please mark the bottle with the appropriate sample identification number in indelible ink or on a non-removable tamper-proof label.

- Measure the pH upon collection and send the info to us (not required).​

- There is no need to refrigerate stored water samples.

- Do not add any chemicals to the water upon collection.

NOTE - We no longer recommend adding a small amount of NaOH to the sample. This was a necessary step in the process of DIC precipitation, but not for the gas strip method used by our lab.


Packaging Suggestions

Before placing the bottles in a sturdy cardboard box, please put the bottles inside a plastic bag and seal the bag with a zip-tie or duct tape. If any of the bottles leak during shipment, the water will not weaken the box. Please use a box with sufficient packing to prevent breakage during shipment.

We recommend commercial courier or ​registered ​first-class mail when sending the samples to the lab. Please email the courier and tracking number so we can monitor your package.

Email:     lab@radiocarbon.com
Call:     USA:      +(1) 305-667-5167
Europe: +(44) 207-617-7459
Australia:   +(61) 282-053-107
Brazil:    +(55) 11-3958-8586
China:   +(86) 10-8418-1950
Japan:    +(81) 52-802-0703
Korea:    +(82) 2-2190-3725
Address:     Australia - Brazil - China - India
Japan - Korea - UK - USA

Email us for the latest price list.

   Prepare Sample
    - Sample Size and Packaging

   Submit Datasheet
    - Online OR PDF
    - Internet Explorer 8 & 9 users, please       use the PDF

   Arrange Payment
    - (Contact lab@radiocarbon.com)

   Prepare Shipment
    - (Customs and Addresses)