Rapid Extraction of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon from Seawater and Groundwater Samples for Radiocarbon Dating

Kalina Gospodinova, S.M., 2012
Ann McNichol, Advisor

The focus of this thesis is the design and development of a system for rapid extraction of dissolved inorganic carbon from seawater and groundwater samples for radiocarbon dating. The Rapid Extraction of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon System (REDICS) consists of two subsystems – one for sample introduction, acidification, and carbon dioxide extraction, and one for carbon dioxide quantification and storing. The first subsystem efficiently extracts the dissolved inorganic carbon from the water sample in the form of carbon dioxide by utilizing a gas-permeable polymer membrane contractor. The second subsystem traps, quantifies and stores the extracted gas using cryogenics. The extracted carbon dioxide is further processed for stable and radiocarbon isotope analysis at the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Facility at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The REDICS system was tested using seawater standards collected at 470m and 4000m depth in the Atlantic Ocean and analyzing the extracted CO2. The results were compared to the results for the same standards processed on the current NOSAMS water stripping line. The results demonstrate that the system successfully extracts more than 99% of the dissolved inorganic carbon in less than 20 minutes. Stable isotope and radiocarbon isotope analyses demonstrated system precision of 0.02‰ and 3.5‰ respectively.