Fluorine absorption dating

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Fluorine absorption dating is a method used to determine the amount of time an object has been underground.

Fluorine absorption dating can be carried out based on the fact that groundwater contains fluoride ions. Items such as bone that are in the soil will absorb fluoride from the groundwater over time. From the amount of absorbed fluoride in the item, the time that the item has been in the soil can be estimated.

Many instances of this dating method compare the amount of fluorine and uranium in the bones to nitrogen dating to create more accurate estimation of date. Older bones have more fluorine and uranium and less nitrogen. But because decomposition happens at different speeds in different places, it's not possible to compare bones from different sites.

As not all objects absorb fluorine at the same rate, this also undermines the accuracy of such a dating technique. Although this can be compensated for by accommodating for the rate of absorption in calculations, such an accommodation tends to have a rather large margin of error.

In 1953 this test was used to easily identify that the 'Piltdown Man' was forged, almost 50 years after it was originally 'unearthed'.

References

  • Göksu, H. Y., M. Oberhofer and D. Regulla, editors, Fluorine dating in Scientific Dating Methods, Springer, 1991, pp 251 – 270 ISBN 978-0-7923-1461-5
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