Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-gvrqt Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-08T22:01:11.226Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Extraneous Carbon Assessments in Radiocarbon Measurements of Black Carbon in Environmental Matrices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2016

Alysha I Coppola*
Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92697-3100, USA
Lori A Ziolkowski
Geography and Earth Science, McMaster University, Hamilton ON L8S 2S4, Canada
Ellen R M Druffel
Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92697-3100, USA
2Corresponding author. Email:


Extraneous carbon (Cex) added during chemical processing and isolation of black carbon (BC) in environmental matrices was quantified to assess its impact on compound specific radiocarbon analysis (CSRA). Extraneous carbon is added during the multiple steps of BC extraction, such as incomplete removal of solvents, and carbon bleed from the gas chromatographic and cation columns. We use 2 methods to evaluate the size and Δ14C values of Cex in BC in ocean sediments that require additional pretreatment using a cation column with the benzene polycarboxylic acid (BPCA) method. First, the direct method evaluates the size and Δ14C value of Cex directly from the process blank, generated by processing initially empty vials through the entire method identically to the treatment of a sample. Second, the indirect method quantifies Cex as the difference between processed and unprocessed (bulk) Δ14C values in a variety of modern and 14C-free or “dead” BC standards. Considering a suite of hypothetical marine sedimentary samples of various sizes and Δ14C values and BC Ring Trial standards, we compare both methods of corrections and find agreement between samples that are >50 μg C. Because Cex can profoundly influence the measured Δ14C value of compound specific samples, we strongly advocate the use of multiple types of process standards that match the sample size to assess Cex and investigate corrections throughout extensive sample processing.

Oceanic Carbon Cycle
Copyright © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Abbey, S. 1983. Studies in “standard samples” of silicate rocks and minerals 1969–1982. Canadian Geological Survey Paper 83:85114.Google Scholar
Akhter, MS, Chughtai, AR, Smith, DM. 1985. The structure of hexane soot I: spectroscopic studies. Applied Spectroscopy 39(1):143–53.Google Scholar
Brodowski, S, Rodionov, A, Haumaier, L, Glaser, B, Amelung, W. 2005. Revised black carbon assessment using benzene polycarboxylic acids. Organic Geochemistry 36(9):1299–310.Google Scholar
Currie, L, Benner, R, Kessler, JD, Kliendist, DB, Marolf, JV, Slater, JE, Wise, SA, Cachier, H, Cary, R, Chow, JC, Watson, J, Druffel, ERM, Masiello, CA, Eglinton, TI, Pearson, A, Reddy, CM, Gustafsson, O, Hartmann, PC, Quinn, JG, Hedges, JI, Prentice, KM, Kirchstetter, TW, Novakov, T, Puxbaum, H, Schmid, H. 2002. A critical evaluation of interlaboratory data on total, elemental, and isotopic carbon in the carbonaceous particle reference material, NIST SRM 1649a. Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (107):279–98.Google Scholar
Eglinton, TI, Aluwihare, LI, Bauer, JE, Druffel, ERM, McNichol, AP. 1996. Gas chromatographic isolation of individual compounds from complex matrices for radiocarbon dating. Analytical Chemistry 68(5):904–12.Google Scholar
Elmquist, M, Gustafsson, O, Andersson, P. 2004. Quantification of sedimentary black carbon using the chemothermal oxidation method: an evaluation of ex situ pretreatments and standard additions approach. Limnology and Oceanogrography: Methods 2:417–27.Google Scholar
Gladney, ES, Roelandts, I. 1988. 1987 compilation of elemental concentration data for USGS BHVO-1, MAG-1, QLO-1, RGM-1, SCo-1, SDC-1, SGR-1, and STM-1. Geostandards Newsletter 12(2):253362.Google Scholar
Glaser, B, Haumaier, L, Guggenberger, G, Zech, W. 1998. Black carbon in soils: the use of benzenecarboxylic acids as specific markers. Organic Geochemistry 29(4):811–9.Google Scholar
Goldberg, ED. 1985. Black Carbon in the Environment. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Govindaraju, K. 1994. 1994 compilation of working values and descriptions for 383 geostandards. Geostandards Newsletter 18(S1):1158.Google Scholar
Hammes, K, Smernik, RJ, Skjemstad, JO, Herzog, A, Vogt, UF, Schmidt, MWI. 2006. Synthesis and characterization of laboratory-charred grass straw (Oryza sativa) and chestnut wood (Castanea sativa) as reference materials for black carbon quantification. Organic Geochemistry 37(11): 1629–33.Google Scholar
Hammes, K, Schmidt, MWI, Smernik, RJ, Currie, LA, Ball, WP, Nguyen, TH, Louchouarn, P, Houel, S, Gustafsson, Ö, Elmquist, M, Cornelissen, G, Skjemstad, JO, Masiello, CA, Song, J, Peng, P, Mitra, S, Dunn, JC, Hatcher, PG, Hockaday, WC, Smith, DM, Hartkopf-Fröder, C, Böhmer, A, Lüer, B, Huebert, BJ, Amelung, W, Brodowski, S, Huang, L, Zhang, W, Gschwend, PM, Flores-Cervantes, DX, Largeau, C, Rouzaud, J-N, Rumpel, C, Guggenberger, G, Kaiser, K, Rodionov, A, Gonzalez-Vila, FJ, Gonzalez-Perez, JA, de la Rosa, JM, Manning, DAC, López-Capél, E, Ding, L. 2007. Comparison of quantification methods to measure fire-derived (black/elemental) carbon in soils and sediments using reference materials from soil, water, sediment and the atmosphere. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 21: GB002914, doi:10.1029/2006GB002914.Google Scholar
Hwang, J, Druffel, ERM. 2005. Blank correction for Δ14C measurements in organic compound classes of oceanic particulate matter. Radiocarbon 47(1):7587.Google Scholar
Ingalls, AE, Pearson, A. 2005. Ten years of compound specific radiocarbon analysis. Oceanography 18(3):1831.Google Scholar
Masiello, CA, Druffel, ERM, Currie, LA. 2002. Radiocarbon measurements of black carbon in aerosols and ocean sediments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 66(6): 1025–36.Google Scholar
National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2001. Certificate of analysis, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1649a: urban dust, report. Gaithersburg: NIST.Google Scholar
Santos, GM, Southon, JR, Griffin, S, Beaupre, SR, Druffel, ERM. 2007. Ultra small-mass AMS 14C sample preparation and analyses at KCCAMS/UCI Facility. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 259(1):293302.Google Scholar
Santos, GM, Southon, JR, Drenzek, NJ, Ziolkowski, LA, Druffel, ERM, Xu, X, Zhang, D, Trumbore, SE, Eglinton, TI, Hughen, KA. 2010. Blank assessment for ultra-small samples: chemical extraction and separation versus AMS. Radiocarbon 52(3):1322–35.Google Scholar
Schmidt, MWI, Noack, AG. 2000. Black carbon in soils and sediments: analysis, distribution, implications, and current challenges. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 14(3):777–94.Google Scholar
Stuiver, M, Polach, HA. 1977. Discussion: reporting of 14C data. Radiocarbon 19(3):355–63.Google Scholar
Watson, JG, Chow, JC, Chen, LWA. 2005. Summary of organic and elemental carbon/black carbon analysis methods and intercomparisons. Aerosol Air Quality Research 5(1):65102.Google Scholar
Ziolkowski, LA, Druffel, ERM. 2009. Quantification of extraneous carbon during compound specific radiocarbon analysis of black carbon. Analytical Chemistry 81(24):10,15661.Google Scholar
Ziolkowski, LA, Chamberlin, AR, Greaves, J, Druffel, ERM. 2011. Quantification of black carbon in marine systems using the benzene polycarboxylic acid method: a mechanistic and yield study. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 9:140.Google Scholar