Uses of c 14 dating

Radiocarbon dating is one of the best known archaeological dating techniques available to scientists, and the many people in the general public have at least heard of it.

But there are many misconceptions about how radiocarbon works and how reliable a technique it is.

Other organic data sets examined have included varves (layers in sedimentary rock which were laid down annually and contain organic materials, deep ocean corals, speleothems (cave deposits), and volcanic tephras; but there are problems with each of these methods.

Cave deposits and varves have the potential to include old soil carbon, and there are as-yet unresolved issues with fluctuating amounts of C14 in ocean corals.

So, if you measure the amount of C14 in a dead organism, you can figure out how long ago it stopped exchanging carbon with its atmosphere.Radiocarbon dating was invented in the 1950s by the American chemist Willard F.Libby and a few of his students at the University of Chicago: in 1960, he won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention.What you need is a ruler, a reliable map to the reservoir: in other words, an organic set of objects that you can securely pin a date on, measure its C14 content and thus establish the baseline reservoir in a given year.Fortunately, we do have an organic object that tracks carbon in the atmosphere on a yearly basis: tree rings.

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