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Radiocarbon dates of a terrestrial and marine organism of equivalent age have a difference of about 400 radiocarbon years.
Freshwater systems running through limestone or fed by old water from springs can lead to falsely old ages in carbonate AMS dates.
The mixing of deep waters upward with surface waters—in a phenomenon known as upwelling—is latitude dependent and occurs predominantly in the equatorial region.
Coastline shape, local climate and wind, trade winds, and ocean bottom topography also affect upwelling. Mangerud, global variation in marine radiocarbon reservoir effect evident in shell carbonates are due to the incomplete mixing of upwelling water of “old” inorganic carbonates from the deep ocean where long residence times of more than 1,000 years cause depletion of carbon 14 activity through radioactive decay, resulting in very old apparent carbon 14 age.
The basis of radiocarbon dating includes the assumption that there is a constant level of carbon 14 in the atmosphere and therefore in all living organisms through equilibrium.
Carbon 14 is a naturally occurring isotope of the element carbon and is called radiocarbon. Another characteristic of carbon 14 is that it is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere as a product of the reaction between neutrons produced by cosmic rays and nitrogen atoms.