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Measurement of Radiocarbon Levels in Natural Diamonds

Lead Researcher: Dr John Baumgardner

The goal of this research initiative is to measure accurately the radiocarbon levels in 21 research diamonds from several different mines and alluvial settings in Africa. These diamonds have been provided by an emeritus research professor at the University of Glasgow in Scotland who has investigated properties of diamond inclusions for more than 40 years. Our plan is to divide each of the diamonds, averaging 40-50 mg in mass, into 1-2 mg chips. We plan to mount these diamond chips directly into 1 mm holes drilled in the accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) sample holder. This approach avoids the usual steps of combusting the samples to CO2 and then reducing the CO2 back to graphite, thus eliminating the contamination normally associated with these steps. The plan is to run four replicas of each diamond at each of at least two separate laboratories.  Use of multiple chips from each diamond allows us to assess the internal consistency among the individual measurements and to significantly reduce the experimental uncertainty.  Use of multiple laboratories allows us to identify systematic differences between laboratories, if any. 

We expect the results from these analyses to match the astonishing findings of the Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE) project, published in 2005, that documented C-14 levels above the instrument background in the majority of the diamonds tested. Because the experimentally measured half-life for radiocarbon is 5,730 years, documenting the presence of radiocarbon in this large suite of diamonds implies that some unusual process has generated radiocarbon within the diamonds in the recent past. As described in more detail in chapter 8, section 7, of the final RATE report, available at, an episode of accelerated nuclear decay during the Genesis Flood nicely accounts for this level of C-14 in natural diamond.  It also supports the results from the RATE study of helium retention in zircons and of polonium radiohalos that some 600 million years’ worth (at presently measured decay rates) of nuclear decay took place during the year of the Flood only a few thousand years ago. Costs for these replicated analyses are estimated to be $1,500 per sample per laboratory for a total of $63,000 for the project.  

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