False carbon dating examples
Radiocarbon dating was the first chronometric technique widely available to archaeologists and was especially useful because it allowed researchers to directly date the panoply of organic remains often found in archaeological sites including artifacts made from bone, shell, wood, and other carbon based materials.In contrast to relative dating techniques whereby artifacts were simply designated as "older" or "younger" than other cultural remains based on the presence of fossils or stratigraphic position, 14C dating provided an easy and increasingly accessible way for archaeologists to construct chronologies of human behavior and examine temporal changes through time at a finer scale than what had previously been possible.Probably the most important factor to consider when using radiocarbon dating is if external factors, whether through artificial contamination, animal disturbance, or human negligence, contributed to any errors in the determinations.Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation about radiocarbon dating has been circulated by individuals who have neither training nor hands-on experience in this area.How do we know what the ratio was before then, though--say, thousands of years ago?It is assumed that the ratio has been constant for a very long time before the industrial revolution.By looking at other outcrops in the area, our geologist is able to draw a geological map which records how the rocks are related to each other in the field.From the mapped field relationships, it is a simple matter to work out a geological cross-section and the relative timing of the geologic events.
For example, a geologist may examine a cutting where the rocks appear as shown in Figure 1.
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by Tas Walker A geologist works out the relative age of a rock by carefully studying where the rock is found in the field.
However, as with any dating technique there are limits to the kinds of things that can be satisfactorily dated, levels of precision and accuracy, age range constraints, and different levels of susceptibility to contamination.