Radiocarbon dating error margin
Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is a modern radiocarbon dating method that is considered to be the more efficient way to measure radiocarbon content of a sample.
In this method, the carbon 14 content is directly measured relative to the carbon 12 and carbon 13 present. Some inorganic matter, like a shell’s aragonite component, can also be dated as long as the mineral’s formation involved assimilation of carbon 14 in equilibrium with the atmosphere.
Over the years, other secondary radiocarbon standards have been made.
Radiocarbon activity of materials in the background is also determined to remove its contribution from results obtained during a sample analysis.
Background radiocarbon activity is measured, and the values obtained are deducted from the sample’s radiocarbon dating results.
Background samples analyzed are usually geological in origin of infinite age such as coal, lignite, and limestone.
It is rapidly oxidized in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the global carbon cycle.