Radiocarbon dating video

Looking at the graph, 100% of radiocarbon in a sample will be reduced to 50% after 5730 years.In 11,460 years, half of the 50% will remain, or 25%, and so on.The extra neutrons in Carbon-14’s case make it radioactive (thus the term, radiocarbon).

Rodents, for example, can create havoc in a site by moving items from one context to another.

Natural disasters like floods can sweep away top layers of sites to other locations.

Shellfish remains are common in coastal and estuarine archaeological sites, but dating these samples require a correction for the “reservoir effect” a process whereby "old carbon" is recycled and incorporated into marine life especially shellfish inflating their actual age in some cases several centuries.

In recognition of this problem archaeologists have developed regional reservoir correction rates based on ocean bottom topography, water temperature, coastline shape and paired samples of terrestrial and marine objects found together in an archaeological feature such as a hearth.

Limitations and calibration: When Libby was first determining radiocarbon dates, he found that before 1000 BC his dates were earlier than calendar dates.

He had assumed that amounts of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere had remained constant through time.

Long tree-ring sequences have been developed throughout the world and can be used to check and calibrate radiocarbon dates.

An extensive tree-ring sequence from the present to 6700 BC was developed in Arizona using California bristlecone pine (), some of which are 4900 years old, making them the oldest living things on earth.

As long as there is organic material present, radiocarbon dating is a universal dating technique that can be applied anywhere in the world.

It is good for dating for the last 50,000 years to about 400 years ago and can create chronologies for areas that previously lacked calendars.

How It Works: Carbon has 3 isotopic forms: Carbon-12, Carbon-13, and Carbon-14.