Radioactive dating of trees

Radioactive dating of trees

Dendrochronology - tree-ring dating - and carbon-14 dating can be combined to date an event to a particular calendar year, the researchers said.Michael Dee, lead author of the paper and researcher from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: "In the past, we have had floating estimates of when things may have happened, but these secret clocks could reset chronologies concerning important world civilisations with the potential to date events that happened many thousands of years ago to the exact year.” But there are challenges.

Common materials for radiocarbon dating are: The radiocarbon formed in the upper atmosphere is mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Because the carbon present in a plant comes from the atmosphere in this way, the radio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the plant is virtually the same as that in the atmosphere.The Miyake events stand out amongst the normal carbon-14 levels detected in the atmosphere and can be dated because the tree-rings retain the carbon-14 level from the year in which they grew.Archives mapping out the growth year of every tree-ring are known, making the Miyake events in tree-rings time markers.An archaeologist and an astrophysicist have discovered a new method of timekeeping that could reset key historic dates by inspecting ancient radioactive tree rings.Researchers from the University of Oxford, Michael Dee and Benjamin Pope, published their results today in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

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“The discovery of past spikes in atmospheric radiocarbon activity, caused by major solar energetic particle events, has opened up new possibilities for high-precision chronometry,” the paper said.

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