Marine Science Faculty Publications

Radiocarbon Dating and Calibration

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



accelerator mass spectrometry, 14C variations, calibration curves, calibration software, error assessment, half-life, isotopic fractionation, radiometric dating, reservoir effect, wiggle matching

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


This chapter discusses the role of 14C dating in sea-level research and includes a brief historical overview, an outline of the basic principles of 14C dating, and a discussion of the differences between the radiometric approach and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Sources of error in 14C dating, specifically those relevant to sea-level studies, receive considerable attention. This includes uncertainties associated with isotopic fractionation and reservoir effects. The latter are of particular concern, especially in estuarine environments. Finally, 14C calibration and various widely used programs to convert 14C ages into calendar ages are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Radiocarbon Dating and Calibration, in I. Shennan, A. J. Long & B. P. Horton (Eds.), Handbook of Sea‐Level Research, John Wiley & Sons, p. 347-360