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Beginning in the 1990s, a coalition of researchers led by Paula J.
Reimer of the CHRONO Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology, at Queen's University Belfast, began building an extensive dataset and calibration tool that they first called CALIB.
Throughout the life of an animal or plant, the amount of C14 is perfectly balanced with that of its surroundings. The C14 in a dead organism slowly decays at a known rate: its "half life".
Reimer and colleagues point out that Int Cal13 is just the latest in calibration sets, and further refinements are to be expected.
For example, in Int Cal09's calibration, they discovered evidence that during the Younger Dryas (12,550-12,900 cal BP), there was a shutdown or at least a steep reduction of the North Atlantic Deep Water formation, which was surely a reflection of climate change; they had to throw out data for that period from the North Atlantic and use a different dataset.
We thank you in advance for partnering with us in this small but significant way. All methods of radioactive dating rely on three assumptions that may not necessarily be true: It is assumed that the rate of decay has remained constant over time.
This assumption is backed by numerous scientific studies and is relatively sound.
The half-life of an isotope like C14 is the time it takes for half of it to decay away: in C14, every 5,730 years, half of it is gone.