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The C-14 decays with the beta particle, and you have some detection equipment and you count the C-14s one by one.

Accelerator mass spectrometry is not dependent upon the radioactive decay.

Laboratory staff, from left: Mats Rundgren (lecturer), Raimund Muscheler (professor), Anne Birgitte Nielsen (lecturer), Ingemar Hansson (research engineer), Mattias Olsson (research engineer), Göran Skog (lecturer) and Git Klintvik Ahlberg (technician).

Dr Christine Prior is Team Leader of the Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory at GNS Science.

The analyses are based on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS).

Natural 14C can be used in numerous applications, of which radiocarbon dating, with the possibility for dating back to about 50000 years, is among the best-known and most practiced applications.

Examples of material that we date are wood, charcoal, peat, macrofossils, bone and marine shells.Also shown are views of bone preparation at the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory.DR CHRISTINE PRIOR In conventional radiocarbon dating, you’re measuring the presence of the C-14 when you measure the radioactive decay.The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.Other corrections must be made to account for the proportion of throughout the biosphere (reservoir effects).So the most important things about AMS radiocarbon dating as opposed to conventional is that the sample size is much, much smaller.

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