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Radio carbon dating method

Much of the information presented in this section is based upon the Stuiver and Polach (1977) paper "Discussion: Reporting of C14 data". 1890 wood was chosen as the radiocarbon standard because it was growing prior to the fossil fuel effects of the industrial revolution.

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Obviously, this activity is additional and must be removed from calculations.By measuring the activity of a background sample, the normal radioactivity present while a sample of unknown age is being measured can be accounted for and deducted.In an earlier section we mentioned that the limit of the technique is about 55-60 000 years.Standard errors released with each radiocarbon assay (see below) are usually rounded by convention (Stuiver and Polach, 1977).Again, not all laboratories subscibe to these conventions, some do not round up ages.The Oxalic acid standard was made from a crop of 1955 sugar beet. The isotopic ratio of HOx I is -19.3 per mille with respect to (wrt) the PBD standard belemnite (Mann, 1983). T designation SRM 4990 C) was made from a crop of 1977 French beet molasses.

The Oxalic acid standard which was developed is no longer commercially available. In the early 1980's, a group of 12 laboratories measured the ratios of the two standards.

Another standard, Oxalic Acid II was prepared when stocks of HOx 1 began to dwindle. The ratio of the activity of Oxalic acid II to 1 is 1.29330.001 (the weighted mean) (Mann, 1983). There are other secondary radiocarbon standards, the most common is ANU (Australian National University) sucrose.

The ratio of the activity of sucrose with 0.95 Ox was first measured by Polach at 1.50070.0052 (Polach, 1976b:122).

In order to make allowances for background counts and to evaluate the limits of detection, materials which radiocarbon specialists can be fairly sure contain no activity are measured under identical counting conditions as normal samples.

Background samples usually consist of geological samples of infinite age such as coal, lignite, limestone, ancient carbonate, athracite, marble or swamp wood.

All D14C values are normalized to the base value of -25.0 per mille with respect to the standard carbonate (VPDB).