X-ray microtomographic imaging of charcoal

Michael I. Bird, Philippa L. Ascough, Iain M. Young, Cheryl V. Wood, Andrew C. Scottc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We assess the potential of X-ray microtornography as a tool for the non-destructive, three-dimensional examination of the internal structure of charcoal. Microtomographic analysis of a series of charcoals produced by the experimental pyrolysis of pine wood at temperatures from 300 and 600 degrees C in nitrogen only and in nitrogen mixed with 2% oxygen indicates that, despite substantial shrinkage, observed porosity, pore size and pore connectivity are all increased by Pyrolysis and also by chemical oxidation. Analysis of a number of altered and unaltered archaeological and geological charcoals has demonstrated the capacity of the technique to identify and map the distribution of authigenic mineral contamination within charcoal fragments. The results are of significance to radiocarbon dating in that they provide insights into the mechanisms by which charcoal can be contaminated by extraneous carbon in the natural environment. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2698-2706
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume35
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

Keywords

  • charcoal
  • radiocarbon
  • microtomography
  • geoarchaeology
  • quaternary geochronology
  • biochar
  • black carbon
  • CARBON-ISOTOPE COMPOSITION
  • ELEMENTAL CARBON
  • BLACK CARBON
  • FOSSIL CHARCOAL
  • ORGANIC-MATTER
  • SCOTS PINE
  • PORE-SIZE
  • WOOD
  • SOIL
  • FIRE

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