AMS Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes

Stable Isotope Analysis – Measuring Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes (δ13C and δ15N)

recommended sample size Sample size requirements vary per material (see below)

carbon dating services Turnaround time
  • 14 business days

recommended container Recommended container
  • Ziplock Bags (place in aluminum foil if sample is small or can be crushed during shipment)
  • Please send your samples in small boxes instead of envelopes to protect the samples.

printed sample

Pretreatment – Excluding bones, all samples submitted for stable isotope analysis must be ready for measurement (pH neutral, clean and dry). Bone samples submitted only for stable isotope analysis include collagen extraction (for non-cremated bones) or carbonate extraction (for cremated bones).

Stable Isotope Analysis Cost

When requesting for a formal quotation/estimate, please indicate the number of samples per material type and the billing details of the paying institution.

Submittal – Please use this online form


Recommended Sample Size for d13C Analysis Only

The following are minimum size recommendations for d13C measurements and may not be sufficient in every instance. Please contact us if you are in doubt about the suitability or weight of your sample.

Material Minimum sample size required
(for pretreated d13C samples) *
Bone / Antler / Charred Bone 0.5 mg
Charcoal 0.5 mg
Dung 1 mg
Hair 2 mg
Insect (Chitin) 2 mg
Leather 2 mg
Organic Sediment / Gyttja 10 mg
Plants / Seeds 2 mg
Pollen 4 mg
Textile 2 mg
Wood 2 mg
* Pretreated samples must be pH neutral, clean and dry

Materials for d13C + d15N Analysis

Beta Analytic provides d13C + d15N testing for non-cremated bones using an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS).
Required sample size: 2 mg before pretreatment
Results: d13C (/± 0.3 ‰ relative to VPDB), d15N (± 0.5 ‰ relative to air-N2), %C, %N and C:N values

The lab also accepts these samples on a case-by-case basis:

  • Hair material, fish bone (including otoliths), algae, soft tissue, invertebrates, aquatic insects, planktons, fish feed, and fish feces
  • Required sample size: 2.5 mg (ready for measurement)

Materials not accepted at this time:

  • Plants, seeds, organic sediment and wood
  • We may not be able to provide d15N measurements for charred or burned bones depending on the sample quality.

Please contact us prior to submission to confirm that the lab will accept your sample for d13C + d15N testing.

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Page last updated: September 2022