General Guidelines for Preparing AMS Samples
Handling SamplesWhen handling samples it is important you wear gloves to avoid imparting any carbon or oils from your skin to the sample. Wet samples invite bacteria to grow. Dry the samples in a low temperature oven (50º C). Visually inspect your samples, with a microscope if possible, and remove any material that does not belong.
Define your Samples
We expect submitters to prepare samples which are "ready to analyze". This doesn't mean that we'll handle them mindlessly. We just believe that it's best to draw a line between sample definition —the investigator's task— and sample processing. The investigator will always know more about the samples than we do, and s/he should define the sample by removing as much contamination from a sample as possible (e.g., sediment, quartz grains, rootlets) and where there is ample material, by carefully choosing a subsample for AMS analysis. Submit only what you want us to analyze.
If you are not sure, or expect that less than 100 μg of pure carbon will be extracted in the Sample Prep Lab, please indicate on the NOSAMS Submittal Form whether we may use small sample techniques. Knowing this beforehand will streamline and reduce handling; alternatively leaving this unspecified will delay processing while we seek your decision.
Art Objects and Items of Cultural Heritage
Our laboratory follows the UNESCO convention on trade in antiquities (Hajdas et al.). Objects of antiquities are not the specialty of NOSAMS but may be accepted if accompanied with the proper forms. Please provide the following documents with your submission: (1) Sample Declaration (2) Declaration of Ownership (3) picture of the object and (4) documentation of objects provenance. Objects without proof of legal status will not be accepted.
14C Contamination - Hot Samples.
A sample with an unnaturally high level of 14C is sometimes called a "hot sample". Hot samples usually result from inadvertent contamination, like using a container that was previously in contact with radiocarbon tracers. Ways to insure clean, uncontaminated samples are discussed in the following document: [Collection and Handling of Samples for Analysis by AMS]. In addition to compromising your own science, a contaminated sample can mean significant down time for our laboratories as we must rigorously clean or replace any apparatus that the sample came into contact with. In some cases, irreplaceable samples submitted by other investigators are lost. We must be careful to protect the laboratory and samples from contamination for all investigators who use our facility.
Sample processing begins after electronic submission data has been entered through the Web Portal and the samples arrive and are logged in. An email acknowledgement is sent that lists the samples received together with a unique receipt number. The acknowledgement email includes an estimate of fees that can be used to obtain a purchase order. Invoices are issued after samples are analyzed and results reported.
Shipping GuidelinesWe recommend that samples requiring chilling be sent by overnight express and that you avoid scheduling delivery for a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
Please mail samples to:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
NOSAMS Sample Submission
Attn: K. Elder MS #8
266 Woods Hole Rd
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Clear glass or plastic vials and jars are preferred. Aluminum foil is not recommended for sample containers unless you first bake it in a muffle furnace for one hour at 525 degrees Celsius (a carbon residue is left on the surface of foil during production). Place well-labelled containers inside individual plastic bags to prevent sample mixing in case of breakage during shipping.
Excess Sample MaterialSolid sample material not consumed during analysis is archived at NOSAMS for a two-year period from the date of submission and then discarded. We will return unused portions, if requested and a shipping account is provided. Please provide this information during the submission process.
Excess water samples (DIC and DOC) are archived for one month following analysis and then discarded. If you would like the sample containers returned please provide your request and a shipping account during submission through the Web Portal.