U-Th Dating

Shells, corals and other carbonates

Shells, corals and other carbonates are widely used in order to assess variability in climate and environmental conditions in time. A variety of stable and radioactive isotopes can be used to date these samples and provide further information on environmental context during their lifespan.

Assumptions for U-Th Dating: Open vs. Closed Systems

The most optimal samples for accurate U-Th dating are those that exist in closed systems, including speleothems and corals. In some cases, bones and lake sediments may also be used, but the state of your samples should be carefully considered prior to planning your analysis and interpreting U-Th dating results.

What is U-Th dating?

U-Th dating is an analytical method used to date calcium carbonate (CaCO3) bearing samples, including cave deposits/speleothems, CaCO3 rock, corals, shells and (in some cases) bones.

U-Th Dating vs Radiocarbon Dating

The analysis of the uranium-thorium (U-Th) decay chain can be used to date a variety of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) bearing samples, including cave deposits (e.g. speleothems), calcium carbonate rock, corals, shells and (in some cases) bones. This method can be used to date samples existing from present day until 500,000 calendar years before present.

Isobar’s U-Th Dating Webinar

Register to watch Isobar’s U-Th Dating Webinar on-demand.
Live Webinar: January 27, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Maren Pauly, Beta Analytic and Isobar Science Account Manager