Jul 7. Posted by Paul Braterman. Can we trust radiocarbon dating? After all, it makes the same range of assumptions as other radiometric dating methods, and then some. Other methods benefit from internal checks or duplications, which in the case of radiocarbon dating are generally absent.
Inaccuracies in radiocarbon dating -- ScienceDaily
Seventy years ago, American chemist Willard Libby devised an ingenious method for dating organic materials. His technique, known as carbon dating, revolutionized the field of archaeology. Now researchers could accurately calculate the age of any object made of organic materials by observing how much of a certain form of carbon remained, and then calculating backwards to determine when the plant or animal that the material came from had died. An isotope is a form of an element with a certain number of neutrons, which are the subatomic particles found in the nucleus of an atom that have no charge. While the number of protons and electrons in an atom determine what element it is, the number of neutrons can vary widely between different atoms of the same element.
The age of the earth is a central issue in creation -evolution discussions, because a young earth would not permit enough time for evolution to occur, and an old earth would contradict a literal reading of the Bible account of creation. The belief in an old earth is based on conventional dates for geological periods, which are in the hundreds of millions of years range, and are obtained by isotopic dating methods. Standard isotopic radiometric dating techniques typically yield such dates on fossil-bearing strata. There are, however, numerous disagreements between dates produced by different isotopic dating methods, and there are many cases where the dates obtained are very different from the expected ones. Furthermore, geologists are aware of a number of factors that can cause radiometric dating methods to give bad dates, and these factors are sometimes difficult to recognize.
Radiocarbon dating is a key tool archaeologists use to determine the age of plants and objects made with organic material. But new research shows that commonly accepted radiocarbon dating standards can miss the mark -- calling into question historical timelines. Archaeologist Sturt Manning and colleagues have revealed variations in the radiocarbon cycle at certain periods of time, affecting frequently cited standards used in archaeological and historical research relevant to the southern Levant region, which includes Israel, southern Jordan and Egypt. These variations, or offsets, of up to 20 years in the calibration of precise radiocarbon dating could be related to climatic conditions.