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After Willard Libby demonstrated in 1946 that the time since the death of an object could be determined by measuring its 14C activity, researchers in disciplines from Anthropology to Zoology have exploited this discovery. Among these researchers are members of the University of Arizona, Department of Geosciences, who for years

have studies the 14C content of various anthropological and geophysical specimens.

    The limitation of Libby’s original technique was the relatively large quantity of sample required (grams of carbon). This limitation was overcome by the development of AMS. One of the earliest AMS instruments was constructed at the University of Arizona in 1981, as a joint project between the Departments of Physics and Geosciences and funded through the National Science Foundation. This machine is still operational.

   Since then the total number of radiocarbon samples processed in the laboratory is approaching 60,000. The number of analyses has steadily increased. The addition of a second AMS instrument in 2000 brought our instrumentation up to date and expanded our analytical capabilities.

Figure 1. Increase in the amount of sample processed in the last 18 years

statistics of sample processed in the last 18 years