How far back can radiocarbon date using different materials through comparison with OSL

Ms Jiemei Zhong1, Dr Xiaolin Xu1, Dr Xianmei Huang1, Prof Zhongping Lai1

1Institute Of Marine Sciences, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory Of Marine Biotechnology, Shantou University, Shantou,, China

 Radiocarbon (C-14) dating has been accepted as a reliable and widely applicable dating method extensively applied in the field of archaeology and Quaternary geology. It is claimed that the C-14 dating limit can be up to 50-60 cal ka BP, based on ideal dating materials. However, it is argued that in practice the limit could be much lower ( e.g., 25-35 cal ka BP). Recently, the results of the comparison between the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating and C-14 have been published substantially. In this paper, we present an overview of the C-14 dating range using different materials to explore the upper limit of C-14 dating through comparison with OSL dating. It is demonstrated that the practical upper limit of C-14 dating is ~25-35 cal ka BP, regardless of dating various materials, including inorganic carbon, organic carbon, organic matter, or even plant remains. It’s therefore suggested that radiocarbon ages greater than ~25-35 cal ka BP should be taken by caution. This severe underestimation could be due to modern carbon contamination.


Jiemei Zhong is a postgraduate student from the Shantou University of China, with a passion for geology, especially keen on doing experiments as well as going on field trips. For these reasons, she has learned the experimental method of Luminescence dating and has been to lots of places in China for field trips for recent two years. Her recent work focuses primarily on exploring the upper limit of radiocarbon dating by comparison with OSL dating.

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Nov 18 2021


11:00 am - 11:45 am