Range of carbon dating

This happens whenever there is a wiggle in the curve at the time the samples died.

This, in fact, is the most significant factor contributing to loss of precision in radiocarbon dates today.

Thus, the ratio of argon-40 and potassium-40 and radiogenic calcium-40 to potassium-40 in a mineral or rock is a measure of the age of the sample.

The calcium-potassium age method is seldom used, however, because of the great abundance of nonradiogenic calcium in minerals or rocks, which masks the presence of radiogenic calcium.

There are two main factors which determine the precision of a radiocarbon date.

Modern accelerator mass spectrometry (used for radiocarbon dating purposes to separate radiocarbon atoms from stable carbon atoms and count them) is quite precise.

However, this contribution is usually only a few decades.

Radiocarbon dates are certainly not precise to within a year or two, but they are generally precise to within a few hundred years or better.

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It makes no sense at all if man appeared at the end of billions of years.Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! This dating method is based upon the decay of radioactive potassium-40 to radioactive argon-40 in minerals and rocks; potassium-40 also decays to calcium-40.This means radiocarbon's precision is generally sufficient to choose between alternate chronologies which differ by a hundred years or more.Thus radiocarbon serves biblical chronology mainly by helping to eliminate large-scale biblical chronology errors arising out of misinterpretation of the biblical text or textual corruption.

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