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Radiocarbon dating seizes on that fraction, which decreases over time, to estimate age. The problem is that the fraction can decrease not only as carbon-14 decays but also as normal carbon increases.

“If they’re using radiocarbon in the future, they’ll know what to expect,” she said.A unique facility within the monument is the John Day Fossil Beds is the Thomas Condon paleontology site which is primarily a questions and answers platform for the visitors.Mammals that once inhabited the area include browsers such as the amynodot and the brontotheres, predators like the patriofelis, and the hyaenodont. In the past 7-20 million years, fossil studies reveal the inhabitation of close to 100 animal and 60 plant species within the John Day region.Heather Graven, the atmospheric scientist at the Imperial College London who wrote the paper, was surprised at how much emissions could “age” the atmosphere if pollution continues at its current rate.“If you think of parts of the deep ocean that are quite old, that have been sequestered for thousands of years, in the business-as-usual scenario, then the atmosphere would have the same radiocarbon fraction as the oldest part of the ocean,” she said. It’s very, very low.” The risk to researchers is that the old could become indistinguishable from the new if it is artificially aged by extra atmospheric carbon.

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