Accuracy range of carbon dating
The answer to the problem of fluctuating amounts of this important isotope is calibration.
While an uncalibrated reading may be off by a factor of 10%-20%, calibration severely reduces that value.
Though it is not without its flaws, including several not mentioned here, it is truly an incredible creation that will be used for many years to come.
In a related article on geologic ages (Ages), we presented a chart with the various geologic eras and their ages.
Despite its overuse and misrepresentation in the media, it is nonetheless extremely valuable.
This process has seriously assisted archaeologists in their research, excavations, and scholarly studies.
In fact, it has fluctuated a great deal over the years.
This variation is caused by both natural processes and human activity.
Archaeologists have the most accurate readings they are likely to ever receive!
Cosmic rays and changes in Earth’s climate can cause irregularities in the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere.
Humans began making an impact during the Industrial Revolution.
Since trees can have a lifespan of hundreds of years, its date of death might not even be relatively close to the date the archaeologists are looking for.
Thorough research and cautiousness can eliminate accidental contamination and avoidable mistakes.In a separate article (Radiometric dating), we sketched in some technical detail how these dates are calculated using radiometric dating techniques.