Why Radiocarbon Dating Works—Lake Suigetsu

Copyright 2003 G.R. Morton This can be freely distributed so long as no changes are made and no charges are made.

In 1998 I ran across an article on the internet talking about a Japanese lake which had calibrated Carbon-14 dating back to 43,000 years ago. The article said

Bottom of Lake Refines Carbon Dating Technique

By Kenneth Chang
ABCNEWS.com
Feb. 23 - Each spring, tiny plants bloom in Lake Suigetsu, a small body of water in Japan. When these one?cell algae die, they drift down, shrouding the lake floor with a thin, white layer.
The rest of the year, dark clay sediments settle on the bottom. The alternating layers of dark and light count the years like tree rings. That has allowed scientists to fine-tune a technique called carbon-14 dating, which is used to pin down dates for artifacts tens of thousands of years old.”

Source: “This Died How Long Ago?”

Anyway, I got the Science article to see what they were talking about. It is H. Kitagawa and J. van der Plicht, “Atmospheric Radiocarbon Calibration to 45,000 yr B. P.: Late Glacial Fluctuations and Cosmogenic Isotope Production,” Science 279(1998):1187-1190 and the picture below comes from that paper.

Here is the line of logic which shows that C14 works.

  1. We see the Lake bloom with algae every year, today.
  2. We see the algae die and make a white layer on the lake bottom.
  3. We have no reason to think that the white layers are formed in any other way.
  4. We see one white layer per year.

With this, we can then count the white layers to get what year the white layer was deposited. There are 100,000 of them in the lake (which presents its own problem for YEC apart from carbon 14)

In the layers are found some leaves and twigs which can be dated and then the dates compared with the layer count.. Below is the picture of the dating comparison. Clearly, carbon 14 and the white layer count come out pretty closely. If anything, however, the C14 is giving a slightly younger age than the white layer actually is. Because of this, we can know that carbon 14 works. Any explanation from the silent young-earth creationists?

I want the young-earthers to know in their heart of hearts that they can't explain this data. And if they can't explain the data, it means that they can't have the correct model of the earth history. Any explanation from the silent young-earth creationists?

Suigetsu Suigetsu Suigetsu Core

I finally had a friend chase down a picture of the Lake Suigetsu varves. Here it is.

Each of these white layers is an algal bloom.