Invention of radiocarbon dating
There are two sources of uncertainty in radiocarbon ages.
First, there is unavoidable imprecision in the laboratory-calculated age.
Similarly, certain rocks may have incorporated older “argon-rich” material during formation.
Some landslides can be dated indirectly, using plant material contained within sediments deposited in an upstream lake impounded behind the debris dam or within outburst flood sediments deposited when the dam is breached by overflow.
Similar errors result from modern argon being absorbed on to the surface and interior of the sample, thereby invalidating the second assumption.
Fortunately, atmospheric argon contamination can be assessed by measurement of the different isotopes of argon present.
Thus, the method is used for dating volcanic rocks that contain no argon after the molten lava has cooled, thereby setting the isotopic “clock” to zero.
With the passage of time, K, the production of argon is extremely slow.
As such, there is no certainty that the organism was killed by the landslide, which is the conceptual assumption many researchers make when interpreting radiocarbon ages on such fossils.