Improving ancient kauri radiocarbon dating: Investigation into ancient kauri (Agathis australis) wood properties for improving radiocarbon dating and timber milling.


With radiocarbon dating, a frequent problem with wood samples has been that some ‘conventional’ pretreatment methods leave some residue that result in large under-estimates of the age. Knowing what are these ‘problem’ chemicals will help ensure effective and efficient pretreatments.  Similarly, saw millers have experienced problems with ancient kauri milling compared to modern wood.  Kauri is renowned for its stability, hence its past widespread use in the boat building industry.  However, ancient kauri is known to warp and crack creating problems for processing and reduced utilisation / increased wastage.


To determine how chemical and wood property changes occur with increasing subfossil kauri age to help improve radiocarbon dating and commercial timber utilisation.

Student benefits

Through this project, you will learn how to sample and obtain solvent extracts to obtain chemical “profiles” across different time periods. You will also analyse and interpret the results for communication both as a scientific paper and to the saw milling industry. You will also be integrated within the CHRONOS 14Carbon-Cycle Facility as well as the Earth and Sustainability Science Research Centre, with opportunities for training and career development.

Please email Chris ( for more details!

Get involved

To learn more about this project, contact Prof Chris Turney.