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Other uses of radiocarbon dating

So, in other words, we have a pretty solid way to calibrate raw radiocarbon dates for the most recent 12,594 years of our planet's past.

But before that, only fragmentary data is available, making it very difficult to definitively date anything older than 13,000 years.

There is a greater part of man’s unwritten past that archaeology has managed to unravel.

We should see some interesting results in the very near future.

History, anthropology, and archaeology are three distinct but closely related bodies of knowledge that tell man of his present by virtue of his past.

Lake Suigetsu's annually formed sediments hold detailed information about environmental changes over the past 50,000 years, which radiocarbon specialist PJ Reimer believes will be as good as, and perhaps better than, samples cores from the Greenland Ice Sheet. report 808 AMS dates based on sediment varves measured by three different radiocarbon laboratories.

The dates and corresponding environmental changes promise to make direct correlations between other key climate records, allowing researchers such as Reimer to finely calibrate radiocarbon dates between 12,500 to the practical limit of c14 dating of 52,800.

Radiocarbon dating is one of the best known archaeological dating techniques available to scientists, and the many people in the general public have at least heard of it.

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But there are many misconceptions about how radiocarbon works and how reliable a technique it is.All living things exchange the gas Carbon 14 (C14) with the atmosphere around them—animals and plants exchange Carbon 14 with the atmosphere, fish and corals exchange carbon with dissolved C14 in the water.Throughout the life of an animal or plant, the amount of C14 is perfectly balanced with that of its surroundings. The C14 in a dead organism slowly decays at a known rate: its "half life".Beginning in the 1990s, a coalition of researchers led by Paula J.Reimer of the CHRONO Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology, at Queen's University Belfast, began building an extensive dataset and calibration tool that they first called CALIB.The latest curves were ratified at the 21st International Radiocarbon Conference in July of 2012.Within the last few years, a new potential source for further refining radiocarbon curves is Lake Suigetsu in Japan.It was the first absolute scientific method ever invented: that is to say, the technique was the first to allow a researcher to determine how long ago an organic object died, whether it is in context or not.Shy of a date stamp on an object, it is still the best and most accurate of dating techniques devised.Reimer and colleagues point out that Int Cal13 is just the latest in calibration sets, and further refinements are to be expected.For example, in Int Cal09's calibration, they discovered evidence that during the Younger Dryas (12,550-12,900 cal BP), there was a shutdown or at least a steep reduction of the North Atlantic Deep Water formation, which was surely a reflection of climate change; they had to throw out data for that period from the North Atlantic and use a different dataset.

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