Uranium-series dating and the origin of modern man
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Uranium-series dating is based on measurement of the radioactivity of short-lived daughter isotopes of uranium formed in samples which initially contained only the parent uranium. Materials suitable for U-series dating are found in many prehistoric archaeological sites, and include stalagmitic layers (flowstones), and spring-deposited travertines. Some marls and calcretes are also datable using isochron methods, whereas dates on molluscan shells, bones and teeth are less reliable. Ages obtained using alpha counting to determine isotope ratios have errors greater than 5%, and can range from 1 to 350 ka. Mass spectrometric methods slightly increase the range (0.1-500 ka) but greatly decrease the error to less than 1%, making this the optimal method for high-precision dating of the origin of modern man.
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