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Also it is obviously possible to carbon-date one of the growth rings of a tree, and to compare the date produced by radiocarbon dating with the date produced by dendrochronology.
Such dates typically agree to within 1 or 2 per cent.
Fourthly, the carbon in the organic remains does have to originate with the terrestrial carbon cycle and with plants performing photosynthesis.
If this is not the case, it is sometimes possible to correct for the fact; in other cases it makes dating impossible.
After the death of the organism, processes of decay will return its carbon to the atmosphere, unless it is sequestered — for example in the form of coal.
This means that when an organism is alive, its ratio of C dating, or C-C dating.
We can also compare radiocarbon dates with dates known on other grounds.
For example, we have discussed the use of varves for dating; now since varves incorporate organic material as they are formed, we can check that when we radiocarbon date a varve, we get the same date for it as we obtain by counting the varves.
By comparison the behavior of the genera of trees used in dendrochronology is more reliable and consistent.
You probably have seen or read news stories about fascinating ancient artifacts.
At an archaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old.
By and large, however, organisms tend to consume fresh vegetation or fresh meat, so this problem is unlikely to arise in practice.
One way we can check the efficacy of radiocarbon dating is to compare the dates it produces with dates known on historical grounds, to ensure that it does indeed give us the right answer.For example, marine carbon behaves quite differently from carbon in the terrestrial cycle.