How accurate is carbon 14 dating

27-Jun-2017 15:17

Thus creationists and others who invoke perceived weaknesses in radiocarbon dating as justification to cast doubt on the great age of the earth are either uniformed on very basic scientific facts, or else are highly being disingenuous to their audience.

Radiocarbon dating has been studied at great length over the past few decades, and its strengths and weaknesses are very well understood at this point in time.

Comparing these counts with a series of 651 radiocarbon-dated samples spanning this record, they obtained a calibration curve that is very close to the 2009 calibration shown above [Callaway2012]. It should be emphasized that the actual calibrated dates are about 10%-20% older than the raw uncorrected radiocarbon dates that were once used.

Compare, for example, the uncorrected line (blue dotted line) with the calibration curve (red curve).

In any event, it must be emphasized once again that radiocarbon dating has no relevance one way or the other for the overall question of whether the earth is many millions of years old, since the scheme can only be used to reliably date specimens less than approximately 50,000 years old.

Additional background is available in a well-written Wikipedia article on the topic [Radiocarbon2011], and in Richard Wiens' article [Wiens2002].

Because of this relatively short half-life, radiocarbon is useful for dating items of a relatively recent vintage, as far back as roughly 50,000 years before the present epoch.

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These researchers collected core samples 70 meters deep, and then painstakingly counted the layers, year by year, to obtain a direct record stretching back 52,000 years.

Since it is chemically indistinguishable from the stable isotopes of carbon (carbon-12 and carbon-13), radiocarbon is taken by plants during photosynthesis and then ingested by animals regularly throughout their lifetimes.

When a plant or animal organism dies, however, the exchange of radiocarbon from the atmosphere and the biosphere stops, and the amount of radiocarbon gradually decreases, with a half-life of approximately 5730 years.

Carbon dating methods have three basic assumptions that may not necessarily be true: 1-The assumption that the starting point of dating is Zero.

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To start at Zero it is assumed that only the parent isotope be initially present or the amount of daughter isotope present at the beginning is known to be deducted.

For instance, even in the 1950s, when Willard Libby first developed the process, it was recognized that the scheme assumes that the level of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is constant.