The new calibration curve, which extends back 50,000 years is a major landmark in radiocarbon dating-- the method used by archaeologists and geoscientists to establish the age of carbon-based materials.
It could help research issues including the effect of climate change on human adaption and migrations.
The project was led by Queen's University Belfast through a National Environment Research Centre (NERC) funded research grant to Dr Paula Reimer and Professor Gerry McCormac from the Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology (14CHRONO) at Queen's and statisticians at the University of Sheffield.
Ron Reimer and Professor Emeritus Mike Baillie from Queen's School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology also contributed to the work.
The curve called INTCAL09, has just been published in the journal Radiocarbon. It not only extends radiocarbon calibration but also considerably improves earlier parts of the curve.
Dr Reimer said: "The new radiocarbon calibration curve will be used worldwide by archaeologists and earth scientists to convert radiocarbon ages into a meaningful time scale comparable to historical dates or other estimates of calendar age.
"It is significant because this agreed calibration curve now extends over the entire normal range of radiocarbon dating, up to 50,000 years before today. Comparisons of the new curve to ice-core or other climate archives will provide information about changes in solar activity and ocean circulation."
It has taken nearly 30 years for researchers to produce a calibration curve this far back in time.
Since the early 1980s, an international working group called INTCAL has been working on the project.
The principle of radiocarbon dating is that plants and animals absorb trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere while they are alive but stop doing so when they die. The carbon-14 decays from archaeological and geological samples so the amount left in the sample gives an indication of how old the sample is.
As the amount of carbon -14 in the atmosphere is not constant, but varies with the strength of the earth's magnetic field, solar activity and ocean radiocarbon ages must be corrected with a calibration curve.
Most experts consider the technical limit of radiocarbon dating to be about 50,000 years, after which there is too little carbon-14 left to measure accurately with present day technology.
Further information on the work of Queen's Chrono Centre can be found online at http://chrono.qub.ac.uk/
Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 44-0-28-9097-5384 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa McElroy | EurekAlert!
NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy