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22-Nov-2017 12:01

Lake Suigetsu's annually formed sediments hold detailed information about environmental changes over the past 50,000 years, which radiocarbon specialist PJ Reimer believes will be as good as, and perhaps better than, samples cores from the Greenland Ice Sheet. report 808 AMS dates based on sediment varves measured by three different radiocarbon laboratories.

The dates and corresponding environmental changes promise to make direct correlations between other key climate records, allowing researchers such as Reimer to finely calibrate radiocarbon dates between 12,500 to the practical limit of c14 dating of 52,800.

The latest curves were ratified at the 21st International Radiocarbon Conference in July of 2012.

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BASIS OF RADIOCARBON DATING Radiocarbon dating compares the amount of normal carbon with the amount of radioactive carbon in a sample.Trees maintain carbon 14 equilibrium in their growth rings—and trees produce a ring for every year they are alive.Although we don't have any 50,000-year-old trees, we do have overlapping tree ring sets back to 12,594 years.So, in other words, we have a pretty solid way to calibrate raw radiocarbon dates for the most recent 12,594 years of our planet's past.

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But before that, only fragmentary data is available, making it very difficult to definitively date anything older than 13,000 years.

Radiocarbon dating is one of the best known archaeological dating techniques available to scientists, and the many people in the general public have at least heard of it.