The level of atmospheric Radiometric dating in general, of course, poses a huge problem for people who believe that the universe is 6000-odd years old.
For example, rootlet intrusion, soil type (e.g., limestone carbonates), and handling of the specimens in the field or lab (e.g., accidental introduction of tobacco ash, hair, or fibers) can all potentially affect the age of a sample.
Bioturbation by crabs, rodents, and other animals can also cause samples to move between strata leading to age reversals.
This of course contradicts claims that the Great Flood messed up how carbon was deposited, destroying their own argument.
Less astute creationists often conflate carbon dating with other forms of radiometric dating, attempting to "disprove" the true age of dinosaur fossils by "refuting" carbon dating.
Carbon dating has a certain margin of error, usually depending on the age and material of the sample used.
Carbon-14 has a half-life of about 5730 years, so researchers use the process to date biological samples up to about 60,000 years in the past.
Desmond Clark (1979:7) observed that without radiocarbon dating "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation." And as Colin Renfrew (1973) aptly noted over 30 years ago, the "Radiocarbon Revolution" transformed how archaeologists could interpret the past and track cultural changes through a period in human history where we see among other things the massive migration of peoples settling virtually every major region of the world, the transition from hunting and gathering to more intensive forms of food production, and the rise of city-states.
However, as with any dating technique there are limits to the kinds of things that can be satisfactorily dated, levels of precision and accuracy, age range constraints, and different levels of susceptibility to contamination.
Carbon-dating Carbon dating, like other radiometric dating methods, requires certain assumptions that cannot be scientifically proved.
These include the starting conditions, the constancy of the rate of decay, and that no material has left or entered the sample.
Radiocarbon dating is especially good for determining the age of sites occupied within the last 26,000 years or so (but has the potential for sites over 50,000), can be used on carbon-based materials (organic or inorganic), and can be accurate to within ±30-50 years.