Accuracy of carbon dating
New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’.Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.Early geologists, in the 1700s and 1800s, noticed how fossils seemed to occur in sequences: certain assemblages of fossils were always found below other assemblages. Since 1859, paleontologists, or fossil experts, have searched the world for fossils.In the past 150 years they have not found any fossils that Darwin would not have expected.Dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating have intertwined histories, she explains, with roots firmly planted at the UA.
A contemporary tree—that is, a tree that was either just cut down or still living—can tell you not just how many years it has lived, but which years in which it lived. Credit: credit: Mari Cleven But what if the wood is older?When their emissions mix with the modern atmosphere, they flood it with non-radioactive carbon.