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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.

Please let us know if your samples have been in the proximity of any location using labeled 14C (artificial 14C). The collection and/or shipping containers must be new and were not previously used for any purpose.

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)