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Accelerator mass spectrometer dating

Radiocarbon dating of bulk sediments has been the standard method for establishing chronologies in the studies of lake sediment cores which have contributed significantly to our knowledge of late Quaternary paleo-environments.These bulk sediment dates are presumed to be direct ageindicators for the speciments (e.g., pollen or macrofossils) which are actually being studied.The C-14 decays with the beta particle, and you have some detection equipment and you count the C-14s one by one.Accelerator mass spectrometry is not dependent upon the radioactive decay.There is, of course, also the component of cost and experimental complexity.For most research the cost of such a measurement is most likely simply not in the budget.

Dr Christine Prior is Team Leader of the Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory at GNS Science.Also shown are views of bone preparation at the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory.DR CHRISTINE PRIOR In conventional radiocarbon dating, you’re measuring the presence of the C-14 when you measure the radioactive decay.The dates obtained by this method should provide more reliable radiocarbon chronologies for paleo-environmental studies than have been obtainable by bulk sediment dating.My understanding of the limitation of radiometric dating is that background radiation swamps the radiation from C14 once the remaining atoms get few enough in number.

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