Dendrochronology radiocarbon dating calibration


For decades, radiocarbon dating has been a way for scientists to get a rough picture of when once-living stuff lived.

The method has been revolutionary and remains one of the most commonly used dating methods to study the past. Pearson, an assistant professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona, studies the past lives of trees to better understand the history of civilizations.

Generally, it is not possible to construct a complete sequence of tree rings back through the historical periods using only living trees.

Chronologies derived from living trees must be extended.

The field of dendrochronology has developed during the first decades of this century.

Tree-ring dating was the only method of precise age determination until the 1950s, when the radiocarbon dating method was developed.


This chapter presents a brief historical overview of the development of superlong Holocene tree-ring calendars and the calibration of the radiocarbon time scale derived from tree-ring measurements, with a synopsis of the actual stage of research.

It is estimated that nearly 90% of all measurements made at the more than 50 active accelerator mass spectrometry laboratories are radiocarbon dates.

This dramatic increase in the number of radiocarbon dates is driving the demand for a radiocarbon calibration program that spans the entire radiocarbon timescale from the present to 55,000 years BP.

This work includes measurements on wood as old as 8000 years. Radiocarbon Dating wanted to “understand more fully the nature and causes of the variability of radiocarbon dates” whilst Dendrochronology needed to ensure their Bristlecone Pine chronology [aka narrative] based upon a “new dendrochronological species, in a new area, and (increasingly) in a new time period” was not derailed by Radiocarbon Dating. – Radiocarbon, 24, 1982 origin=publication_detail This study brought out what was very early realized: that in working with a new dendrochronological species, in a new area, and (increasingly) in a new time period, we would be much more secure in chronology building to work with material of a proven, but safe quality.

As one of the principal objectives of this analysis has been to understand more fully the nature and causes of the variability of radiocarbon dates, the data were examined carefully for signs of non-random errors. Much of the data collected in the early stage of investigation was of an extremely difficult quality, with a very low average ring width (many specimens had more than 100 rings per radial inch), a high mean sensitivity, and many locally absent and missing rings.Dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating have intertwined histories, she explains, with roots firmly planted at the UA.


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