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Radiocarbon dating uses the naturally occurring isotope Carbon-14 to approximate the age of organic materials. Often, archaeologists use graves and plant remains to date sites.

Since its conception by Willard Libby in 1949, it has been invaluable to the discipline.

Argon gas, brought up from deep inside the earth within the molten rock, was already present in the lavas when they cooled.

It is not as well publicized as its larger close neighbour MT Ruapehu, which has erupted briefly several times in the last five years.

The K–Ar method works on the assumption that the “clock” begins to “tick” the moment that the rock hardens.

That is, it assumes that no argon derived by radioactive decay was present initially, but after the lava cooled and solidified, the argon from radioactive decay was unable to escape and started to accumulate.

In fact, many important archaeological artifacts have been dated using this method including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.

Though radiocarbon dating is startlingly accurate for the most part, it has a few sizable flaws.

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