# Radio carbon dating problems and solutions

### Illustrative Mathematics

JT Andrews, EW Domack, WL Cunningham, A Leventer, KJ Licht, AJ Jull, DJ Demaster, and AE Jennings, Problems and Possible Solutions Concerning. Carbon is a radioactive isotope of carbon, containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons, that Suppose we have a sample of a substance containing some carbon Since m has a continuous decay rate of − , a general solution to the With this formula, we can calculate the amount m of carbon over the years. Radiocarbon dating of soils has always been a tricky problem. [1] Historically, a solution has been to separate the portion of the soil sample.

Continued Research One of the main problems with this method of soil radiocarbon dating is the presence of a steady state, beyond which 14C dating will yield no useful information regarding the age of the soil. They concluded that 14C dates are valid in alluvial and flood deposits because of the relatively quick soil burial and thick overlying sediments which remove the buried soil from the zone of penetration of roots.

The estimation is less accurate in loess deposits, in which the soil system remains open for a relatively long period. Another method of tackling soil dating has been suggested by O'Brien and Stout.

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- Carbon 14 dating
- Problems in the Radiocarbon Dating of Soils

By studying the profiles of radiocarbon in the soil with respect to the depth, they came to the conclusion that the downward movement of this radiocarbon proceeds via a diffusion mechanism, and the depth of the diffusion is inversely proportional to the time squared. This model of diffusion allows for a much easier dating of buried soil.

Given a "marker", for example a known volcanic eruption at a certain time in the past, by studying how much the volcanic soil has diffused into the ground, one should be able to date the soil using the diffusion method.

Conclusion The above methods are only able to date soil approximately. Newer and better methods are being researched in order to decrease the errors in the estimations, and more sophisticated models have been proposed.

This means that after 5, years, only half of the initial 14C will remain; a quarter will remain after 11, years; an eighth after 17, years; and so on. Carbon dating has shown that the cloth was made between and AD.

Thus, the Turin Shroud was made over a thousand years after the death of Jesus.

Describes radioactive half life and how to do some simple calculations using half life. History The technique of radiocarbon dating was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in Libby estimated that the steady-state radioactivity concentration of exchangeable carbon would be about 14 disintegrations per minute dpm per gram.

InLibby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for this work. He demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from a series of samples for which the age was known, including an ancient Egyptian royal barge dating from BCE.

Before Radiocarbon dating was able to be discovered, someone had to find the existence of the 14C isotope. They found a form, isotope, of Carbon that contained 8 neutrons and 6 protons.

Using this finding Willard Libby and his team at the University of Chicago proposed that Carbon was unstable and underwent a total of 14 disintegrations per minute per gram. Using this hypothesis, the initial half-life he determined was give or take 30 years. Although it may be seen as outdated, many labs still use Libby's half-life in order to stay consistent in publications and calculations within the laboratory. From the discovery of Carbon to radiocarbon dating of fossils, we can see what an essential role Carbon has played and continues to play in our lives today.

An archaeologist must also make sure that only the useful series of samples are collected and processed for carbon dating and not every organic material found in the excavation site. Radiocarbon Scientists—Archaeologists Liaison It is important that the radiocarbon scientists and archaeologists agree on the sampling strategy before starting the excavation so time, effort, and resources will not be wasted and meaningful result will be produced after the carbon dating process.

It must be stressed that archaeologists need to interact with radiocarbon laboratories first before excavation due to several factors.

### Content - Radioactive decay and half-life

Sample type, size and packing Laboratories have limitations in terms of the samples they can process for radiocarbon dating.

Some labs, for example, do not date carbonates.

Laboratories must also be consulted as to the required amount of sample that they ideally like to process as well as their preference with certain samples for carbon dating. Other labs accept waterlogged wood while others prefer them dry at submission. Sample collection Contaminants must not be introduced to the samples during collection and storing. Hydrocarbons, glue, biocides, polyethylene glycol or polyvinyl acetate PVA must not come in contact with samples for radiocarbon dating.

Other potential contaminants include paper, cardboard, cotton wool, string and cigarette ash. Sample storage Samples must be stored in packaging materials that will protect them during transport and even during prolonged storage. Labels attached to the packaging materials must not fade or rub off easily.

## 17.6: Radiocarbon Dating: Using Radioactivity to Measure the Age of Fossils and Other Artifacts

Glass containers can be used when storing radiocarbon dating samples, but they are susceptible to breakage and can be impractical when dealing with large samples. Aluminum containers with screw caps are safe, but it is still best to consult the radiocarbon laboratory for the best containers of carbon dating samples.

Errors and calibration It is recommended that archaeologists, or any client in general, ask the laboratory if results have systematic or random errors.

They should also ask details about the calibration used for conversion of BP years to calendar years.

Cost Clarify the costs involved in radiocarbon dating of samples. Some labs charge more for samples that they do not regularly process.