Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel

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Radiocarbon dating is typically an archaeological tool rather than a forensic one. Recently however, we have shown that the amount of radiocarbon present in tooth enamel, as a result of nuclear bomb testing during the cold war, is a remarkably accurate indicator of when a person is born. Enamel isolated from human teeth is processed to form graphite and carbon-14 ({sup 14}C) levels are measured using accelerator mass spectrometry. Since there is no turnover of enamel after it is formed, {sup 14}C levels in the enamel represent {sup 14}C levels in the atmosphere at the time of its formation. In ... continued below

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Buchholz, B A & Spalding, K L March 10, 2009.

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Radiocarbon dating is typically an archaeological tool rather than a forensic one. Recently however, we have shown that the amount of radiocarbon present in tooth enamel, as a result of nuclear bomb testing during the cold war, is a remarkably accurate indicator of when a person is born. Enamel isolated from human teeth is processed to form graphite and carbon-14 ({sup 14}C) levels are measured using accelerator mass spectrometry. Since there is no turnover of enamel after it is formed, {sup 14}C levels in the enamel represent {sup 14}C levels in the atmosphere at the time of its formation. In this paper we describe the strategy used to determine the date of birth of an individual based on radiocarbon levels in tooth enamel, focusing on the methodology of this strategy. Year of birth information can significantly assist police investigators when the identity of a deceased individual is unknown. In such cases police will try to match particulars of the unidentified individual (which is often only gender and/or an estimate of age), with particulars from missing persons lists.

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PDF-file: 16 pages; size: 0.3 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Surface and Interface Analysis, vol. 42, no. 5, May 1, 2010, pp. 398-401; Journal Volume: 42; Journal Issue: 5

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  • Report No.: LLNL-JRNL-411266
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 978427
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928960

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • March 10, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 6:47 p.m.

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Buchholz, B A & Spalding, K L. Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel, article, March 10, 2009; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928960/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.