Carbon dating halflife


The introduction of "old" or "artificial" carbon into the atmosphere (i.e., the "Suess Effect" and "Atom Bomb Effect", respectively) can influence the ages of dates making them appear older or younger than they actually are.This is a major concern for bone dates where pretreatment procedures must be employed to isolate protein or a specific amino acid such as hydroxyproline (known to occur almost exclusively in bone collagen) to ensure accurate age assessments of bone specimens.A large increase in atmospheric carbon-14 occurred when the United States and several other countries tested nuclear weapons aboveground during the 1950s and 1960s (see Figure 1).



After an organism dies, its level of carbon-14 gradually declines at a predictable pace, with a half-life of about 5,730 years.Sidebar to the article Applying Carbon-14 Dating to Recent Human Remains by Philip Bulman with Danielle Mc Leod-Henning Standard carbon-14 testing, as used by archaeologists, is based on the natural process of radioactive carbon formation that results from cosmic ray bombardment of nitrogen in the earth's upper atmosphere.The radioactive carbon is taken from the atmosphere and incorporated into plant tissues by plant photosynthesis.Radiocarbon dating is especially good for determining the age of sites occupied within the last 26,000 years or so (but has the potential for sites over 50,000), can be used on carbon-based materials (organic or inorganic), and can be accurate to within ±30-50 years.

Probably the most important factor to consider when using radiocarbon dating is if external factors, whether through artificial contamination, animal disturbance, or human negligence, contributed to any errors in the determinations.

Radiocarbon measurement can date organic remains up to about 50,000 years old.