How accurate is carbon dating
So, if we measure the rate of beta decay in an organic sample, we can calculate how old the sample is. Question: Kieth and Anderson radiocarbon-dated the shell of a living freshwater mussel and obtained an age of over two thousand years.ICR creationists claim that this discredits C-14 dating. Answer: It does discredit the C-14 dating of freshwater mussels, but that's about all.This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon-14 dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters. Answer: Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen-14 (N-14) into carbon-14 (C-14 or radiocarbon).Living organisms are constantly incorporating this C-14 into their bodies along with other carbon isotopes.This is because pre-modern carbon 14 chronologies rely on standardised northern and southern hemisphere calibration curves to determine specific dates and are based on the assumption that carbon 14 levels are similar and stable across both hemispheres.
When news is announced on the discovery of an archaeological find, we often hear about how the age of the sample was determined using radiocarbon dating, otherwise simply known as carbon dating.Deemed the gold standard of archaeology, the method was developed in the late 1940s and is based on the idea that radiocarbon (carbon 14) is being constantly created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays which then combine with atmospheric oxygen to form CO2, which is then incorporated into plants during photosynthesis.When the plant or animal that consumed the foliage dies, it stops exchanging carbon with the environment and from there on in it is simply a case of measuring how much carbon 14 has been emitted, giving its age.In a paper published to the , the team led by archaeologist Stuart Manning identified variations in the carbon 14 cycle at certain periods of time throwing off timelines by as much as 20 years.
The possible reason for this, the team believes, could be due to climatic conditions in our distant past.
Thus, a freshly killed mussel has far less C-14 than a freshly killed something else, which is why the C-14 dating method makes freshwater mussels seem older than they really are.