Rapid radiocarbon ( 14 C) analysis of coral and carbonate samples using a continuous-flow accelerator mass spectrometry (CFAMS) system
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Radiocarbon analyses of carbonate materials provide critical information for understanding the last glacial cycle, recent climate history and paleoceanography. Methods that reduce the time and cost of radiocarbon (C-14) analysis are highly desirable for large sample sets and reconnaissance type studies. We have developed a method for rapid radiocarbon analysis of carbonates using a novel continuous-flow accelerator mass spectrometry (CFAMS) system. We analyzed a suite of deep-sea coral samples and compared the results with those obtained using a conventional AMS system. Measurement uncertainty is <0.02 Fm or 160 Ryr for a modern sample and the mean background was 37,800 Ryr. Radiocarbon values were repeatable and in good agreement with those from the conventional AMS system. Sample handling and preparation is relatively simple and the method offered a significant increase in speed and cost effectiveness. We applied the method to coral samples from the Eastern Pacific Ocean to obtain an age distribution and identify samples for further analysis. This paper is intended to update the paleoceanographic community on the status of this new method and demonstrate its feasibility as a choice for rapid and affordable radiocarbon analysis.