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How accurate is radioactive dating

The deepest parts of the ocean mix very slowly with the surface waters, and the mixing is uneven.

The main mechanism that brings deep water to the surface is upwelling, which is more common in regions closer to the equator.

Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.

The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.

The development of radiocarbon dating has had a profound impact on archaeology.

Measurement of radiocarbon was originally done by beta-counting devices, which counted the amount of beta radiation emitted by decaying atoms in the sample and not just the few that happen to decay during the measurements; it can therefore be used with much smaller samples (as small as individual plant seeds), and gives results much more quickly.

Since the calibration curve (Int Cal) also reports past atmospheric concentration using this conventional age, any conventional ages calibrated against the Int Cal curve will produce a correct calibrated age.

When a date is quoted, the reader should be aware that if it is an uncalibrated date (a term used for dates given in radiocarbon years) it may differ substantially from the best estimate of the actual calendar date, both because it uses the wrong value for the half-life of and each component is also referred to individually as a carbon exchange reservoir.

This fossil fuel effect (also known as the Suess effect, after Hans Suess, who first reported it in 1955) would only amount to a reduction of 0.2% in activity if the additional carbon from fossil fuels were distributed throughout the carbon exchange reservoir, but because of the long delay in mixing with the deep ocean, the actual effect is a 3% reduction.

in the atmosphere, with the peak level occurring in 1964 for the northern hemisphere, and in 1966 for the southern hemisphere.

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