Radiocarbon dating volcanic ash

Ancient Fossil Wood Historic reports are common of early miners encountering pieces of petrified and coalified wood in the deep workings of the mines.

Many tree parts, ranging from small pieces of wood up to logs, trunks and a whole stump, have been found mixed in with the Cripple Creek Breccia that hosts the gold mineralization.

First, though, the sample was demineralized to remove any contaminant inorganic minerals.

This involved drenching the samples in hot and strong hydrochloric acid to dissolve away any calcium, barium, or strontium salts (which is done to avoid producing insoluble fluorides in the next step), and then soaking the sample for at least a week in a hot and strong mixture of hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids.

However, such is the rapid decay of radiocarbon (C), with a half-life of 5,730 years, that even after only 250,000 years there should be no detectable radiocarbon left.

Thus, organic materials supposedly millions of years old should not contain any radiocarbon whatsoever.

Furthermore, a cored exploration hole drilled in 2003 intersected a small piece of carbonized fossil wood in tuff and rock fragments of the Cripple Creek Breccia at a vertical depth of 3,079 feet beneath the surface under the mine.


A very short chlorite bleach treatment then had to be used because the sample rapidly oxidized.

As these eruptions finished, the resultant breccias subsided into the deep holes from which the magmas had been blasted into ash and steam, taking with them the wood debris and burying it.

Radiocarbon Analyses Some very small splinter-like fragments, collectively weighing 128 milligrams, were gently broken off from one end of the piece of carbonized fossil wood that was found in July 1947 in the Cresson Mine.

This equates to an apparent uncalibrated radiocarbon age of 41,260 ± 540 years before present (BP), using the Libby meanlife of 8,033 years.

The quoted errors represent the 68.3% confidence limits.Coalification of the fossil wood was common, and growth rings and other woody structures such as knots and bark had been retained.


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