Why dating of fossils is inaccurate

24-Feb-2020 04:20

Consider a lake that dries out or somehow contains older sediments that are washed into it.These sediments are deposited on top of younger sediments currently being deposited in the lake.For example, archaeologists might date materials based upon relative depth of burial in a site.The archaeologists record and analyze the changes in types and styles of human-made items from different levels according to the principle explained below.When the plant or animal that consumed the foliage dies, it stops exchanging carbon with the environment and from there on in it is simply a case of measuring how much carbon 14 has been emitted, giving its age.

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Deemed the gold standard of archaeology, the method was developed in the late 1940s and is based on the idea that radiocarbon (carbon 14) is being constantly created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays which then combine with atmospheric oxygen to form CO2, which is then incorporated into plants during photosynthesis.

However, atmospheric measurements from the last 50 years show varying carbon 14 levels throughout.