How logarithms are used in radiocarbon dating
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.
Again, not all laboratories subscibe to these conventions, some do not round up ages.Later inter-laboratory measurements put the ratio at 1.5081 (Currie and Polach, 1980).According to Stuiver and Polach (1977), all laboratories should report their results either directly related to NBS Oxalic acid or indirectly using a sub-standard which is related to it.It is vital for a radiocarbon laboratory to know the contribution to routine sample activity of non-sample radioactivity.Obviously, this activity is additional and must be removed from calculations.Beukens (1994) for instance has stated that this means the limit of the range for his Isotrace laboratory is 60 000 yr which is very similar to the conventional range.
Figure 1: This gif shows the comparison in radioactivity between a sample, or unknown (green area) , a modern standard (dark blue) and a background (small red peaks) derived from beta decay. A radiocarbon measurement, termed a conventional radiocarbon age (or CRA) is obtained using a set of parameters outlined by Stuiver and Polach (1977), in the journal Radiocarbon.
A time-independent level of C14 activity for the past is assumed in the measurement of a CRA.
The activity of this hypothetical level of C14 activity is equal to the activity of the absolute international radiocarbon standard.
Obviously, the limit of the method differs between laboratories dependent upon the extent to which background levels of radioactivity can be reduced.
Amongst accelerator laboratories there has been mooted the theoretical possibility of extended range dating to 75 000 yr , at present this seems difficult to attain because of the problems in accurately differentiating between ions that mimic the mass and charge characteristics of the C14 atom.
The Conventional Radiocarbon Age BP is calculated using the radiocarbon decay equation: Where -8033 represents the mean lifetime of 14C (Stuiver and Polach, 1977).