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Verifying the declared origin of timber using stable isotope ratio and multi-element analyses

In this project, one hundred timber core samples of Sapele (Entandrophragma), Rosewood (Dalbergia) and Ebony (Diospyros) trees were taken from across West Africa and Madagascar. The 2H, 13C, and 18O isotopes of the extracted cellulose were determined by using an elemental analyser coupled to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS). The study revealed that 2H and 18O of cellulose showed no correlation with 2H and 18O of precipitation water, suggesting the leaf-to-air-vapour pressure difference (VPD), as well as alternative ground water sources may influence the isotopes laid down in cellulose of tropical timber. Additionally, multi-element profiles of the timber samples were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), to assess the potential for geographical origin discrimination based on the combined profile of stable isotope ratios and multi-element concentrations.

  • Gareth Owain Rees
  • University Of York Chemistry
  • 2015