Fossils are generally found in sedimentary rock not igneous rock.Sedimentary rocks can be dated using radioactive carbon, but because carbon decays relatively quickly, this only works for rocks younger than about 50 thousand years.
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To obtain a truly absolute chronology, corrections must be made, provided by measurements on samples of know age.
The most suitable types of sample for radiocarbon dating are charcoal and well-preserved wood, although leather, cloth, paper, peat, shell and bone can also be used.
When the plant or animal that consumed the foliage dies, it stops exchanging carbon with the environment and from there on in it is simply a case of measuring how much carbon 14 has been emitted, giving its age.
But new research conducted by Cornell University could be about to throw the field of archaeology on its head with the claim that there could be a number of inaccuracies in commonly accepted carbon dating standards.
Yet, you’ve heard the news: Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1,000 years old. Geologic age dating—assigning an age to materials—is an entire discipline of its own.
In a way this field, called geochronology, is some of the purest detective work earth scientists do.
To test this oversight, the researchers measured a series of carbon 14 ages in southern Jordan tree rings calculated as being from between 16.
Sure enough, it showed that plant material in the southern Levant showed an average carbon offset of about 19 years compared with the current northern hemisphere standard calibration curve.
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