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Mary Lardie Gaylord, Senior Research Assistant at the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (NOSAMS) facility at WHOI, will speak about her recent discoveries analyzing a historic beech tree for radiocarbon.

In April, 2015 an ailing European Beech tree planted by Woods Hole’s Joseph Fay in the late 1800s was removed from the WHOI village campus. A section of the tree was brought to the NOSAMS facility at WHOI where its radiocarbon content was analyzed. A radiocarbon signal from nuclear weapons testing performed in the 1950s and 60s (called the radiocarbon bomb curve) was recorded from this tree, located on the other side of the world, from where the nuclear bombs were set off.  These findings provided an opportunity for NOSAMS to document the local impact of the signal as well as develop and demonstrate a technique that enables both undergraduate and graduate students to participate in radiocarbon research.