5 limitations of radiocarbon dating

The terrestrial carbon cycle is fairly simple: plants get their carbon from the atmosphere via the process of photosynthesis; herbivores get their carbon from plants, and carnivores from the herbivores.

After the death of the organism, processes of decay will return its carbon to the atmosphere, unless it is sequestered — for example in the form of coal.

Theoretically, the AMS instrument should obtain ages up to 95,000 years, but practically, 60,000 years or less is the limit.

But the radiocarbon detected in diamonds is equivalent to ages of up to 80,000 years.

Part 1 (in the previous issue) explained how scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms in the present.

Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .

This is due to the fact that the AMS instrument has to be calibrated, and yet the organic materials used for calibration (that are supposed to be so old they shouldn't have any detectable radiocarbon left in them) all contain so much radiocarbon that it means samples of unknown age can't yield dates above this radiocarbon barrier.

It is confusing when the maximum date for Carbon 14 is listed as 60,000 years and 80,000 years in the same article (Chapter 4 Dating Methods by Roger Patterson and the reference article summary 4.2 by Riddle.) and as 50,000 years in another (The Answers Book) as well as 95,000 years in the Creation College lecture by Dr. This is why there is the disparity in the quoted limits to radiocarbon dating, as highlighted by this inquirer.It makes no sense at all if man appeared at the end of billions of years.We will deal with carbon dating first and then with the other dating methods.An hourglass is a helpful analogy to explain how geologists calculate the ages of rocks.When we look at sand in an hourglass, we can estimate how much time has passed based on the amount of sand that has fallen to the bottom.