In each sample, radiocarbon ages of diatom-bound organic compounds differed from those obtained from foraminiferal Ca CO.

The influence of background contamination was assessed throughout all stages of the method and cannot be responsible for the discrepancy observed.

radiocarbon dating organic materials-26

Recall that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter.

Atoms are made up of much smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Although, organic materials as old as 100,000 years potentially can be dated with AMS, dates older than 60,000 years are still rare.

Paleoanthropologists and archaeologists must always be aware of possible radiocarbon sample contamination that could result in inaccurate dates.

Plants and animals naturally incorporate both the abundant C-12 isotope and the much rarer radiocarbon isotope into their tissues in about the same proportions as the two occur in the atmosphere during their lifetimes.

When a creature dies, it ceases to consume more radiocarbon while the C-14 already in its body continues to decay back into nitrogen.

C-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen-14 (N-14) is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment (a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope).

The new isotope is called "radiocarbon" because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous.

Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.