Carbon dating inaccurate
Animals eat the plants, and ultimately the radiocarbon is distributed throughout the biosphere.
The ratio of λ is a constant that depends on the particular isotope; for a given isotope it is equal to the reciprocal of the mean-life – i.e.
Correcting for isotopic fractionation, as is done for all radiocarbon dates to allow comparison between results from different parts of the biosphere, gives an apparent age of about 400 years for ocean surface water.
thus introduced takes a long time to percolate through the entire volume of the ocean.
The different elements of the carbon exchange reservoir vary in how much carbon they store, and in how long it takes for the These organisms contain about 1.3% of the carbon in the reservoir; sea organisms have a mass of less than 1% of those on land and are not shown on the diagram.
Accumulated dead organic matter, of both plants and animals, exceeds the mass of the biosphere by a factor of nearly 3, and since this matter is no longer exchanging carbon with its environment, it has a ratio having remained the same over the preceding few thousand years.
Histories of archaeology often refer to its impact as the "radiocarbon revolution".
Additional complications come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and from the above-ground nuclear tests done in the 1950s and 1960s.Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.By contrast, methane created from petroleum showed no radiocarbon activity because of its age.The results were summarized in a paper in Science in 1947, in which the authors commented that their results implied it would be possible to date materials containing carbon of organic origin.