If a sample age falls after 1950, it is termed greater than Modern, or Where Aabs is the absolute international standard activity, 1/8267 is the lifetime based on the new half life (5730 yr), Y = the year of measurement of the appropriate standard.
This is an expression of the ratio of the net modern activity against the residual normalised activity of the sample, expressed as a percentage and it represents the proportion of radiocarbon atoms in the sample compared to that present in the year 1950 AD.
Thus, %Modern becomes a useful term in describing radiocarbon measurements for the past 45 years when, due to the influx of artificial radiocarbon into the atmosphere as a result of nuclear bomb testing the 'age' calculation becomes a 'future' calculation.
If the sample approaches D14C = -1000 per mille within 2 standard deviations, it is considered to be indistinguishable from the laboratory background, ie, not able to be separated with confidence from the laboratory countrates which result from a sample which contains no radionuclide. An example of a minimum age is 50, 000 yr (Gupta and Polach, 1985).
The terms "%Modern", or "pm C" and D14C are shown related in this diagram along with the Radiocarbon age in years BP (Before 1950 AD).
If the reservoir corrected conventional radiocarbon age calculated is within the past 200 years, it should by convention be termed 'Modern' (Stuiver and Polach, 192).
The Conventional Radiocarbon Age BP is calculated using the radiocarbon decay equation: Where -8033 represents the mean lifetime of 14C (Stuiver and Polach, 1977).
Again, not all laboratories subscibe to these conventions, some do not round up ages.By measuring the activity of a background sample, the normal radioactivity present while a sample of unknown age is being measured can be accounted for and deducted.In an earlier section we mentioned that the limit of the technique is about 55-60 000 years.Should the activity of the sample be indistinguishable from the background activity at 1 standard deviation, it is released as background.Samples whose age falls between modern and background and are given finite ages.