Question: Why do carbon-14 ages need to be calibrated?

Calibration of radiocarbon results is needed to account for changes in the atmospheric concentration of carbon-14 over time. These changes were brought about by several factors including, but not limited to, fluctuations in the earths geomagnetic moment, fossil fuel burning, and nuclear testing.

Why is carbon-14 not usually used to accurately?

Because of the short length of the carbon-14 half-life, carbon dating is only accurate for items that are thousands to tens of thousands of years old. Most rocks of interest are much older than this. Geologists must therefore use elements with longer half-lives.

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