Mike's Origins Resources: A PhD Creationist's view of science, origins, and the future hope of the human race; by looking at Creation Science, Biblical Evidence, and Prophecy Molecular History Research Center


Carbon 14 Dating

Not my area of expertise but I am extremely interested in it.
Don't take what is on this page as a scientific endeavor
I am only looking at the evidence and then reporting what I have found to you.


Page 8 of 8

    Page 1

    • Introduction
    • What is Carbon 14?

    Page 2

    • How is Carbon produced?
    • Carbon 14 is in equilibrium
    • How is Carbon 14 used to date specimens and artifacts?

    Page 3

    • Limitations of the Historical Sciences
    • Carbon 14 Dating is based on Assumptions
    • The Assumptions used in Carbon 14 Dating
    • Has the C-14/C-12 ratio (equilibrium) always been constant?

    Page 4

    • Factors that could have affected past C-14 levels
      • World Carbon Inventory
      • Cosmic Ray Intensity
      • Geomagnetic Field Intensity
      • Water Content of the Outer Atmosphere

    Page 5

    • Is there any Data That Would Support the Above Assumptions of a global flood?
      • Anomalous fossil C-14 Dates
      • C-14 Age Profile of Ancient Sediment and Peat Accumulations

    Page 6

      • Does Coal have a residual level of C-14 left from before the Flood?
        • How Easy Is The Difference To Detect?
        • Contamination

    Page 7

        • What is the Source of This "Contamination"?
    • References

    Page 8

    • Recent Developments
      • Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon by Paul Giem
        (Origins No. 51:6-30, 2001)

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Recent Developments
(Starting with the Most Recent)

2. Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon by Paul Giem (Origins No. 51:6-30, 2001)

    Paul Giem has just published another article in the journal Origins. Paul has been looking at the possible reasons why low level C-14 is found in fossil carbon. As you have seen on this web site, the evolutionary expectation is that there should be no C-14 present in the fossil samples. You will find the material presented in this web site as a good background for his discussion of the alternate explanations as to why C-14 is present in fossil materials.

    His article (I am quoting from portions of his abstract), Carbon-14, Content of Fossil Carbon reviews the theoretical basis for expecting the presence of carbon-14 in Pliocene to Cambrian carbon from certain creationist viewpoints, and for expecting its absence from a viewpoint proposing a long age of life on Earth.

    He makes several conclusions in his article:

    1. There is measurable carbon-14 in material that should be "dead" according to standard evolutionary theory.
    2. Machine error can be eliminated as an explanation for this carbon-14 on experimental grounds.
    3. Nuclear synthesis of this carbon-14 in situ can be eliminated on theoretical grounds.
    4. Contamination of fossil material in situ is unlikely but theoretically possible, and is a testable hypothesis.
    5. Contamination during sample preparation is a significant problem but theoretically soluble.
    6. Residual activity is most likely indicated by the present data, and if correct, would eliminate an age greater than approximately 100,000 years for life on Earth.
    7. Additional experimental evidence cannot eliminate either a short or a long age of life on Earth, but can provide evidence tending to discriminate between the two.

    The Geoscience Research Institutewhich publishes Origins, has now made their journal available to the web. Paul's article, Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon is on the web. You can view the paper for free (no user fees).

    NOTE: The following chart is taken from the paper disscussed above. The chart in the paper does not show the age of the fossil material, only pmc ratios are given. To make the data easier to understand, I have added the ages of the fossils to the chart.

    Radiocarbon Measurements
    on "Dead" Carbon
    0 Apparent C-14 Age + 0 0 C14/C ratio (pmc) ++ 0 Material Reference
    39,700 years +- ? 0.71 +- ? * Marble Aerts-Bijma et al. 1997
    41,000 +- 1400 years 0.61 +- 0.12 Foraminifera Arnold et al. 1987
    41,000 +- 500 years 0.60 +- 0.04 Commercial graphite Schmidt et al. 1987
    42,000 +- 600 years 0.52 +- 0.04 Whale bone Jull et al. 1986
    42,000 +- 1000 years 0.51 +- 0.08 Marble Gulliksen & Thomsen 1992
    43,000 +- ? years 0.5 +- ? Dolomite (dirty) Middleton et al. 1989
    43,000 +- 1000 years 0.5 +- 0.1 Wood, 60 Ka Gillespie & Hedges 1984
    44,000 +- 600 years 0.42 +- 0.03 Anthracite Grootes et al. 1986
    44,300 +- 1500 years 0.401 +- 0.084 Foraminifera (untreated) Schleicher et al. 1998
    44,800 +- 890 years 0.383 +- 0.045 Wood (charred) Snelling 1997
    45,200 +- 710 years 0.358 +- 0.033 Anthracite Beukins et al. 1992
    45,600 +- 830 years 0.342 +- 0.037 Wood Beukins et al. 1992
    46,000 +- 2300 years 0.34 +- 0.11 Recycled graphite Arnold et al. 1987
    46,000 +- 1000 years 0.32 +- 0.06 Foraminifera Gulliksen & Thomsen 1992
    47,000 +- ? years 0.3 +- ? Coke Terrasi et al. 1990
    47,000 +- ? years 0.3 +- ? Coal Schleicher et al. 1998
    48,000 +- 600 years 0.26 +- 0.02 Marble Schmidt et al. 1987
    48,700 +- 1900 years 0.2334 +- 0.061 Carbon powder McNichol et al. 1995
    49,500 +- 660 years 0.211 +- 0.018 Fossil wood Beukins et al. 1990
    50,000 +- 700 years 0.21 +- 0.02 Marble Schmidt et al. 1987
    50,000 +- 2000 years 0.21 +- 0.06 CO2 (source?) Grootes et al. 1986
    45,000 - 50,000 years 0.20 - 0.35 * (range) Anthracite Aerts-Bijma et al. 1997
    50,000 +- 3000 years 0.2 +- 0.1 * Calcite Donahue et al. 1997
    50,000 +- 2100 years 0.198 +- 0.060 Carbon powder McNichol et al. 1995
    50,000 +- 2000 years 0.198 +- 0.060 Marble Van der Borg et al. 1997
    51,000 +- 1000 years 0.18 +- 0.03 Whale bone Gulliksen & Thomsen 1992
    51,000 +- 1000 years 0.18 +- 0.03 Calcite Gulliksen & Thomsen 1992
    51,000 +- 400 years 0.18 +- 0.01 ** Anthracite Nelson et al. 1986
    51,000 +- ? years 0.18 +- ? Recycled graphite Van der Borg et al. 1997
    51,000 +- 1000 years 0.17 +- 0.03 Natural gas Guilliksen & Thomsen 1992
    51,400 +- 400 years 0.166 +- 0.008 Foraminifera (treated) Schleicher et al. 1998
    51,600 +- ? years 0.162 +- ? Wood Kirner et al. 1997
    52,000 +- 1000 years 0.16 +- 0.03 Wood Gulliksen & Thomsen 1992
    52,000 +- ? years 0.154 +- ? ** Anthracite coal Schmidt et al. 1997
    52,100 +- 1200 years 0.152 +- 0.025 Wood Beukins 1990
    52,700 +- 1200 years 0.142 +- 0.023 Anthracite Vogel et al. 1987
    52,700 +- 1400 years 0.142 +- 0.028 CaC2 from coal Gurfinkel 1987
    53,000 +- 1000 years 0.14 +- 0.02 Marble Schleicher et al. 1998
    53,400 +- 500 years 0.130 +- 0.009 Graphite Gurfinkel 1987
    53,500 +- 2900 years 0.128 +- 0.056 Graphite ("unknown provenance") Vogel et al. 1987
    53,700 +- 3100 years 0.125 +- 0.060 Calcite Vogel et al. 1987
    54,600 +- 3300 years 0.112 +- 0.057 Bituminous coal Kitagawa et al. 1993
    55,000 +- 800 years 0.1 +- 0.01 Graphite (NBS) Donahue et al. 1990
    55,000 +- 3000 years 0.1 +- 0.05 Petroleum, cracked Gillespie & Hedges 1984
    56,000 +- 700 years 0.098 +- 0.009* Marble Schleicher et al. 1998
    56,000 +- 500 years 0.092 +- 0.006 Wood Kirner et al. 1995
    51,000 - 56,000 years 0.09 - 0.18 * (range) Graphite powder Aerts-Bijma et al. 1997
    53,000 - 56,000 years 0.09 - 0.13 * (range) Fossil CO2 gas Aerts-Bijma et al. 1997
    56,000 +- 1400 years 0.089 +- 0.017 Graphite Arnold et al. 1987
    57,000 +- 1700 years 0.081 +- 0.019 Anthracite Beukins 1992
    57,000 +- ? years 0.08 +- ? Natural Graphite Donahue et al. 1984
    58,000 +- 500 years 0.077 +- 0.005 Natural Gas Beukins 1992
    58,000 +- 900 years 0.076 +- 0.009 Marble Beukins 1992
    58,000 +- ? years 0.07 +- ? Graphite Kretschmer et al. 1998
    59,000 +- 1000 years 0.068 +- 0.009 Graphite (fresh surface) Schmidt et al. 1987
    55,000 - 60,000 years 0.06 +- 0.11 (range) 200 Ma old graphite Nakai et al. 1984
    37,600 - 59,600 years 0.060 +- 0.932 (range) Marble McNichol et al. 1995
    60,000 +- ? years 0.056 +- ? Wood (selected data) Kirner et al. 1997
    61,000 +- 1000 years 0.05 +- 0.01 Carbon Wild et al. 1998
    61,000 +- ? years 0.05 +- ? Carbon-12 (mass sp.) Schmidt et al. 1987
    62,000 - 73,000 (m 60,000) years 0.045 - 0.012 (m 0.06) Graphite Grootes et al. 1986
    62,000 +- ? years 0.044 +- ? Coal Tar Farwell et al. 1984
    63,000 +- ? years 0.04 +- ? * Graphite rod Aerts-Bijma et al. 1997
    63,000 +- 2000 years 0.04 +- 0.01 Finnish graphite Bonani et al. 1986
    63,000 +- 4000 years 0.04 +- 0.02 Graphite Van der Borg et al. 1997
    64,000 +- 1000 years 0.036 +- 0.005 Graphite (air) Schmidt et al. 1987
    64,000 +- 2700 years 0.033 +- 0.013 Graphite Kirner et al. 1995
    65,000 +- 3300 years 0.03 +- 0.015 Carbon powder Schleicher et al 1998
    65,000 +- 2000 years 0.030 +- 0.007 Graphite (air redone) Schmidt et al. 1987
    65,000 +- 1500 years 0.029 +- 0.006 Graphite (argon redone) Schmidt et al. 1987
    65,000 +- 2400 years 0.029 +- 0.010 Graphite (fresh surface) Schmidt et al. 1987
    68,000 +- ? years 0.02 +- ? Carbon powder Pearson et al. 1998
    69,000 +- 1500 years 0.019 +- 0.004 Graphite (argon) Schmidt et al. 1987
    71,000 +- 4300 years 0.014 +- 0.010 CaC2 (technical grade Beukins 1993
    74,000 +- ? years 0.01 +- ? ** Dolomite (clean) Middleton et al. 1989
    (infinity)
    155,000 +- 5,000 years
    0. +- 0.0000004 Methane Beukins 1993
    + The Apparent C-14 Age is calculated from the pmc numbers by assuming the uniformitarian model.
    (The standard 5568 year half-life for C-14 is assumed.)
    The equation used in this chart is: Time = -(log(pmc/100)/log (2))*5568
    The Apparent C-14 Age is added for those who might find it hard to understand the pmc numbers.
    ++ pmc = percent modern carbon.
    [= C14/C ratio expressed as a percentage of that found in the "modern" (1850) biosphere]
    * Estimated from graph.
    ** Lowest value of multiple dates.
    This Table has been modified from its original form from Table I in Paul Giem's paper;
    Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon, Origins No. 51:6-30, 2001

1. Carbon-14 Dating Models and Experimental Implications by Paul Giem (Origins Vol. 24:50-64, 1997 NOTE: Actual date of publication is March 2000.)

    Paul's purpose in this article, is to suggest testable predictions that would help determine which of the models are the best choice.

    His article (I am quoting from his abstract), Carbon-14 Dating Models and Experimental Implications discusses eight categories of models for converting carbon-14 dates into real time. Six of these models are based on a creation as described in Genesis and a short age of life on earth. Differences between the models are specified, especially those that are subject to experimental testing.

    Such features include:

    1. Differences between ring years and radiocarbon years in trees that should be immediately postdiluvian by creationist theories.
    2. The accuracy, or lack thereof, of the dendrochronological radiocarbon calibration curve in the historical era.
    3. The possible existence of carbon-14 in antediluvian fossil material.

    In this article, suggestions are offered for experimental projects that would resolve these uncertainties.

    The Geoscience Research Institutewhich publishes Origins, has now made their journal available to the web. Paul's article, Carbon-14 Dating Models and Experimental Implications is on the web. You can view the paper for free (no user fees).

Other Papers

The Geoscience Research Institutewhich publishes Origins, has now made their entire journal available to the web. They have also included all the past volumes that were published. You can view these papers for free (no user fees).

  1. C-14 Age Profiles for Ancient Sediments and Peat Bogs Origins 2(1):6-18 (1975).
  2. The Interpretation of C-14 Dates Origins 6(1):30-44 (1979).
  3. Implications of C-14 Age vs Depth Profile Characteristics Origins 15(1):19-29 (1988).
  4. The Upper Limit of C-14 Age? Origins 15(1):39-43 (1988).
  5. Correlation of C-14 Age with the Biblical Time Scale Origins 17(2):56-65 (1990).

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Officially posted September 25, 1998
last revised January 1, 2014