Problems with carbon dating accuracy

In fact, in cosmogenic nuclide dating, the greatest uncertainties come from geological problems that result in inaccurate ages.

This usually results in ‘geological scatter’, where boulders on one landform give a range of exposure ages.

Around Antarctica, the ocean water has a radiocarbon age of around 1300 years, though this varies spatially and may have varied in time as well.

Again, this can affect the accuracy of your results – but the precision remains high.

Your wrist watch may measure time with a precision of one second.

A stop watch may time your race with a precision of one hundredth of a second.

The precision is effectively the laboratory uncertainty.

The accuracy is how far this probability density curve falls from a reference value.

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Analytical techniques are very advanced and precise, but they may be inaccurate.Analytical techniques are now very advanced, and can give very small uncertainties on a radiocarbon age.But this isn’t the full story: like cosmogenic nuclide dating, there are plenty of sources of inaccuracies before the sample even gets to the laboratory.The danger of inheritance (previously accumulated cosmogenic isotopes in a boulder) means that some scientists argue that, in the case of geological scatter, the youngest age is likely to be most accurate.However, if your moraine was unstable (perhaps it was ice cored?

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