Carbon dating methodology

The best gauge they have found is dendrochronology: the measurement of age by tree rings.

Accurate tree ring records of age are available for a period extending 9,000 years into the past.

The Lamont-Doherty scientists conducted their analyses on samples of coral drilled from a reef off the island of Barbados.

The samples represented animals that lived at various times during the last 30,000 years. Alan Zindler, a professor of geology at Columbia University who is a member of the Lamont-Doherty research group, said age estimates using the carbon dating and uranium-thorium dating differed only slightly for the period from 9,000 years ago to the present.

Because it is radioactive, carbon 14 steadily decays into other substances.Carbon 14 is thought to be mainly a product of bombardment of the atmosphere by cosmic rays, so cosmic ray intensity would affect the amount of carbon 14 in the environment at any given time.#30,000-Year Limit The Lamont-Doherty group says uranium-thorium dating not only is more precise than carbon dating in some cases, but also can be used to date much older objects.''But at earlier times, the carbon dates were substantially younger than the dates we estimated by uranium-thorium analysis,'' he said.''The largest deviation, 3,500 years, was obtained for samples that are about 20,000 years old.'' One reason the group believes the uranium-thorium estimates to be more accurate than carbon dating is that they produce better matches between known changes in the Earth's orbit and changes in global glaciation. Fairbanks, a member of the Lamont-Doherty group, said that if the dates of glaciation were determined using the uranium-thorium method, the delay - and the puzzle - disappeared.

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