Sources of error in radiocarbon dating

Radiocarbon dating would be most successful if two important factors were true: that the concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere had been constant for thousands of years, and that carbon-14 moved readily through the atmosphere, biosphere, oceans and other reservoirs—in a process known as the carbon cycle.In the absence of any historical data concerning the intensity of cosmic radiation, Libby simply assumed that it had been constant.

Libby reached out to Aristid von Grosse (1905–1985) of the Houdry Process Corporation who was able to provide a methane sample that had been enriched in carbon-14 and which could be detected by existing tools.Libby and graduate student Ernest Anderson (1920–2013) calculated the mixing of carbon across these different reservoirs, particularly in the oceans, which constitute the largest reservoir.Their results predicted the distribution of carbon-14 across features of the carbon cycle and gave Libby encouragement that radiocarbon dating would be successful.In a system where carbon-14 is readily exchanged throughout the cycle, the ratio of carbon-14 to other carbon isotopes should be the same in a living organism as in the atmosphere.However, the rates of movement of carbon throughout the cycle were not then known.

Search for sources of error in radiocarbon dating:

sources of error in radiocarbon dating-5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “sources of error in radiocarbon dating”

  1. If you are experiencing any online connection issues the first thing you should do is clear the cache on your browser and attempt to reconnect. If you like this website, then please recommend it to all your friends and family that you think are interested. The system will automatically determine whether you are on such a device, and a button will appear which you can click to go into the room.