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It is common practice in Carbon-14 laboratories to correct radiocarbon activities for sample fractionation.
Important: Reporting conventions using “Conventional Radiocarbon Age” terminology indicate the result has been corrected for isotopic fractionation.– Beta also measures a second δ13C value in an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS δ13C).
This nomenclature has recently been changed to VPDB (Coplen, 1994).
The δ13C value for a sample can yield important information regarding the environment from which the sample comes or the mixtures of materials used to produce it because the isotope value of the sample reflects the isotopic composition of the immediate environment.
A δ13C value, then, represents the per mille (part per thousand) deviation from the PDB standard.
PDB refers to the Cretaceous belemnite formation at Peedee in South Carolina, USA.
In the case of shellfish, for example, marine shells typically possess a δ13C value between -1 and 4 o/oo (per mille), whereas river shells possess a value of between -8 and -12 o/oo (per mille).