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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).

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.

Amongst accelerator laboratories there has been mooted the theoretical possibility of extended range dating to 75 000 yr , at present this seems difficult to attain because of the problems in accurately differentiating between ions that mimic the mass and charge characteristics of the C14 atom.

Beukens (1994) for instance has stated that this means the limit of the range for his Isotrace laboratory is 60 000 yr which is very similar to the conventional range.

Figure 1: This gif shows the comparison in radioactivity between a sample, or unknown (green area) , a modern standard (dark blue) and a background (small red peaks) derived from beta decay. A radiocarbon measurement, termed a conventional radiocarbon age (or CRA) is obtained using a set of parameters outlined by Stuiver and Polach (1977), in the journal Radiocarbon.