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Tree ring dating reliability

By measuring this loss, a scientist can estimate the age of a bone, a piece of wood or any other carbon-based remnant. Stuiver discovered that when the true ages of wooden objects, as calculated from tree rings, are plotted on a graph against the objects' apparent ages, as determined by carbon dating, a wiggly rather than a straight line results.

However, inaccuracies are caused by the fact that the ratio of radioactive carbon to ordinary carbon in the environment varies over the years. The wiggles represent historic fluctuations in the environment that have continuously altered the ratios of carbon 14 to ordinary carbon. Hughes, these wiggles follow the same pattern in both Europe and America, and therefore provide a universal correction scale for carbon dating, at least in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere.

Among other things, they hope to learn whether the gigantic volcanic eruptions that have punctuated geological history have occurred as clusters in relatively short periods. In Irish and German oaks, longer-term effects of volcanoes are discernible: after major eruptions, the rings for several successive years are thinner than normal because of slow growth in protracted periods of cold.

Climatologists are also intrigued by fresh evidence from tree rings that huge ancient eruptions may have had far more lasting effects on climate than had been supposed. Large eruptions have stamped sharply defined benchmarks on tree rings and ice, and these markers have permitted scientists to reconcile many dating techniques and improve the accuracy of all.

An oak tree typically lives about 250 years and a bristlecone pine may live up to 4,500 years.

We like to work with the longest-lived species we can.'' The next step is to find some old wood whose age overlaps that of living trees, so you can see where the ring sequences overlap.

In any case, The new dating techniques have forced archeologists to revise chronologies of Minoan history, in which the Santorini volcano was traditionally dated around 1500 B. Wood Used by Dutch Masters The new analytical precision afforded by tree rings has even cast light on the old masters of English and Dutch painting, including Holbein and Rembrandt. Baillie undertook an examination of the oak panels on which many artists in Britain and the Low Countries painted in the 14th to 17th centuries.Recent studies of tree rings in Europe and the United States have given scientists astonishingly precise new gauges for reconstructing the history of volcanoes, climate and human endeavor in the last 8,500 years. Hughes, director of the dendrochronology laboratory at the University of Arizona, explained in an interview that large volcanic eruptions leave widespread permanent traces in at least two ways.Tree rings, as distinctively patterned by fluctuations in the environment as bullets are by gun barrels, were recognized half a century ago as potentially useful historical markers. Andrew Ellicott Douglas of the University of Arizona established the science of tree-ring dating, dendrochronology, when he used the rings discernible in ancient wooden artifacts to determine the age of a prehistoric Indian site. Hammer and his colleagues in Denmark analyzed the Greenland ice. First, volcanoes eject large amounts of sulfur dioxide which, when dissolved in water, is precipitated as sulfuric acid in rain or snow.Similar chronologies have been developed recently in two regions of West Germany.The task of assembling chronologies and then of matching them against samples of unknown age is staggering.

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In Europe, a lot of the material we use in this stage of the chronology comes from beams and planks in historic buildings, and that takes us back through the Middle Ages.'' You just keep looking for overlapping ring patterns in wood farther and farther back, but once you get to the time of Christ, you begin to run out of man-made wooden objects.

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