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Purification of fire derived markers for mu g scale isotope analysis (delta C-13, Delta C-14) using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
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2014 (English)In: Organic Geochemistry, ISSN 0146-6380, E-ISSN 1873-5290, Vol. 70, 1-9 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Black carbon (BC) is the residue of incomplete biomass combustion. It is ubiquitous in nature and, due to its relative persistence, is an important factor in Earth's slow-cycling carbon pool. This resistant nature makes pure BC one of the most used materials for C-14 dating to elucidate its formation date or residence time in the environment. However, most BC samples cannot be physically separated from their matrices, precluding accurate C-14 values. Here we present a method for radiocarbon dating of the oxidation products of BC, benzene polycarboxylic acids, thereby circumventing interference from extraneous carbon. Individual compounds were isolated using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and converted to CO2 via wet chemical oxidation for C-13 and C-14 isotope analysis. A detailed assessment was performed to identify and quantify sources of extraneous carbon contamination using two process standards with distinct isotopic signatures. The average blank was 1.6 +/- 0.7 mu g C and had an average radiocarbon content of 0.90 +/- 0.50 (FC)-C-14. We successfully analyzed the C-14 content of individual benzene polycarboxylic acids with a sample size as small as 20-30 mu g C after correcting for the presence of the average blank. The combination of delta C-13 and (FC)-C-14 analysis helps interpret the results and enables monitoring of extraneous carbon contribution in a fast and cost efficient way. Such a molecular approach to radiocarbon dating of BC residues enables the expansion of isotopic BC studies to samples that have either been too small or strongly affected by non-fire derived carbon.

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2014. Vol. 70, 1-9 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-104144DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2014.02.008ISI: 000334312400001OAI: diva2:722619


Available from: 2014-06-09 Created: 2014-06-03 Last updated: 2014-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Smittenberg, Rienk H.
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Department of Geological Sciences
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