I spent much of Friday in the lab, selecting items from Walakpa to send off for radiocarbon dating. We had a reasonable set of samples from 2013 and funds to run the dates, but given that that entire area is gone, I wanted to get some idea of how old some of what was exposed this fall is. That meant I had to make some choices about what got sent and what didn’t.
We had managed to collect several caribou bones, but most of them were ex situ (not in their original location). There are also several samples of plant material from known locations which are much more likely to be informative. Everything had been frozen as soon as it came in from the field due to the aggressive mold we had had to deal with last year. For carbon dating, the lab needs to have a certain minimum weight to work with (varies by each type of material), which means that the samples had to be thawed enough to allow them to be split, cleaned, and dried enough to make sure that the weights were accurate.
Beta Analytic has got a slick new sample submission interface that I had never used before. It has a few quirks, which meant that I had to quadruple check the submissions to fix things. I got better at it, so . In the end, it prints out a barcoded form that you put in the package with the samples.
By the time I finished, it was too late to mail the samples on Friday. The US Post Office in Barrow doesn’t have any counter service on Saturdays, so they’ll get mailed on Monday.
As a result, I didn’t get to see much of the sun that day. It is almost time for it to go down for the winter, and we’ve had so much cloudy weather this year, it was a pity to miss a rare sunny day. By the time I had finished, the sun was down, and this was the view from the BARC.