Radioactive dating of organic materials

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Sedimentary rock is made of particles derived from other rocks, so measuring isotopes would date the original rock material, not the sediments they have ended up in.

However, there are radiometric dating methods that can be used on sedimentary rock, including luminescence dating.

He lives in Beijing with a beautiful wife and two lovely kids." data-title="Stephen Chen" data-html="true" data-template=" Radiocarbon dating, which is used to calculate the age of certain organic materials, has been found to be unreliable, and sometimes wildly so - a discovery that could upset previous studies on climate change, scientists from China and Germany said in a new paper.

Their recent analysis of sediment from the largest freshwater lake in northeast China showed that its carbon clock stopped ticking as early as 30,000 years ago, or nearly half as long as was hitherto thought.

Others measure the subatomic particles that are emitted as an isotope decays.

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These use radioactive minerals in rocks as geological clocks.

Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.

They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.

As scientists who study earth’s (relatively) modern history rely on this measurement tool to place their findings in the correct time period, the discovery that it is unreliable could put some in a quandary.

For instance, remnants of organic matter formerly held up as solid evidence of the most recent, large-scale global warming event some 40,000 years ago may actually date back far earlier to a previous ice age.

"The radiocarbon dating technique may significantly underestimate the age of sediment for samples older than 30,000 years,” said the authors of the report from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Applied Geophysics.

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