Cost of carbon 14 dating

In contrast, from 1955 to 1963, atmospheric radiocarbon levels almost doubled.

All the people whose tissues were tested for the study were residents of the United States.

Atmospheric dispersion tends to create uniform levels of carbon-14 around the globe, and researchers believe that these would be reflected in human tissues regardless of location.

The researchers found that year-of-death determinations based on nails were accurate to within three years.

The generally poor post-mortem preservation of soft tissues would be a limiting factor to this approach.

The researchers found that if they assumed tooth enamel radiocarbon content to be determined by the atmospheric level at the time the tooth was formed, then they could deduce the year of birth.

They found that for teeth formed after 1965, enamel radiocarbon content predicted year of birth within 1.5 years.

Thus, pupal case radiocarbon content would serve as a decay-resistant proxy for the tissues, yielding the year of death.

The spike in atmospheric carbon-14 levels during the 1950s and early 1960s makes this approach possible, but it also means it will have a limited period of utility because the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is slowly returning to its natural level.

Radiocarbon levels in teeth formed before then contained less radiocarbon than expected, so when applied to teeth formed during that period, the method was less precise.

Tags: , ,