Carbon dating is


31-Jul-2017 08:52

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Historians can tell what cultures thrived in different regions and when they disintegrated.Anthropologists can describe a people’s physical character, culture, and environmental and social relations.As a rule, carbon dates are younger than calendar dates: a bone carbon-dated to 10,000 years is around 11,000 years old, and 20,000 carbon years roughly equates to 24,000 calendar years.The problem, says Bronk Ramsey, is that tree rings provide a direct record that only goes as far back as about 14,000 years.

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But even he “realized that there probably would be variation”, says Christopher Bronk Ramsey, a geochronologist at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the latest work, published today in Science.Carbon 14 dating remains to be a powerful, dependable, and widely applicable technique that is invaluable to archaeologists and other scientists.The unstable and radioactive carbon 14, called radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring isotope of the element carbon.“If you have a better estimate of when the last Neanderthals lived to compare to climate records in Greenland or elsewhere, then you’ll have a better idea of whether the extinction was climate driven or competition with modern humans,” says Paula Reimer, a geochronologist at Queen’s University in Belfast, UK.

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She will lead efforts to combine the Lake Suigetsu measurements with marine and cave records to come up with a new standard for carbon dating.

The technique hinges on carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of the element that, unlike other more stable forms of carbon, decays away at a steady rate.



At a very steady rate, unstable carbon-14 gradually decays to carbon-12. The ratio of these carbon isotopes reveals the ages of some of Earth’s oldest inhabitants. Radiocarbon dating is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological.… continue reading »


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Carbon-14 dating Carbon-14 dating. method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon carbon-14. Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic… continue reading »


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How Carbon-14 is Made - Carbon-14 atoms are created when cosmic rays from the sun collide with atoms in the atmosphere. Learn about carbon-14 atoms and carbon-14 atom creation.… continue reading »


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The development in the 1970s of new techniques for radio-carbon dating, which required much lower quantities of source material.… continue reading »


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