Potassium dating accuracy

However, although 5730 years is the correct half-life, it is not the one used for most C-14 dating, simply because the original half-life used to determine dates back in the 1950s was wrong, and to be consistent we still tend to use the wrong value (a bit like the direction of current flow in electronics, which is the opposite of that which the electrons take, but was the original and incorrect assumption).The practical range for dating is in the order of a few hundred to about 40,000 years BP.

This has made it useful for measuring prehistory and events occurring within the past 35 to 50 thousand years.Any further back than that and your standard deviations go way up.Also, C-14 years do not correlate with actual calendar years, since the amount of C-14 isotopes in the atmosphere has fluctuated in the past, and the dating method assumes it was constant.However, the error range increases drastically once you pass 50,000 years.Also, it is of little use in anything more recent than 5,000 years ago.

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