Start Radiocarbon dating calibration curve

Radiocarbon dating calibration curve

Some types of samples require more extensive pre-treatment than others, and these methods have evolved over the first 50 years of radiocarbon dating.

This analysis provides a radiocarbon age of the sample, which must then be calibrated in accordance with a radiocarbon dating calibration curve such as the one pictured below.

A variety of factors have caused the amount of 14C present in the atmosphere to vary over time, resulting in deviations between the age predicted by radiocarbon dating and the absolute date of a specimen. Sample contamination must be carefully avoided to ensure measurement accuracy. Cornell University Press, Itha “Dating In Exposed and Surface Contexts”, ed.: Beck, Charlotte. Seminar Press, New York: NY, 1973 “Radiocarbon Dating”.

Calibration Curve Image Source: “Radiocarbon Dating”.

Since carbon is fundamental to life, occurring along with hydrogen in all organic compounds, the detection of such an isotope might form the basis for a method to establish the age of ancient materials.

Carbon-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays bombard nitrogen atoms.

The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.

The measurement of the rate of radioactive decay is known as its half-life, the time it takes for half of a sample to decay.