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Table 1.
Factors that affect radiocarbon dating. Factors that add 14C-depleted carbon cause the samples to yield falsely old radiocarbon “ages,” and factors that increase samples' 14C cause the samples to yield falsely young radiocarbon “ages.”
The reservoir effect: the tendency of lakes and the ocean to act as reservoirs for old carbon derived from dissolved CO2 and carbonate rocks that are radiocarbon-depleted Due to the reservoir effect, the carbon content of lake and marine samples is 14C-depleted. The magnitude of the reservoir effect varies from one location to the next within the ocean, from one lake to the next, and from one shelled species to the next (Nadeau et al., 2001; Nakamura et al., 2007; Nakanishi et al., 2015; Wang et al., 2017). It is responsible for the famous case in which the shells of live freshwater mollusks yielded false radiocarbon “ages” of thousands of years, due to the mollusks' incorporation of radiocarbon-depleted carbonate into their shells (Keith & Anderson, 1963). It also affects radiocarbon dating of the remains of terrestrial organisms that feed on marine organisms (e.g., humans that eat seafood; Arneborg et al., 1999; Mihara et al., 2004). 
Volcanic gases Samples' exposure to this factor adds 14C-depleted carbon (Pasquier-Cardin et al., 1999). 
Industrial emission of fossil fuels Samples' exposure to this factor adds 14C-depleted carbon (Quarta et al., 2007; Flores et al., 2017). 
Nuclear explosions and fallout Samples' exposure to these factors increases their 14C content (Gentry et al., 1998; McGee et al., 2004; Lachner et al., 2014; Yang et al., 2017). 
Contamination with coal This factor increases samples' 14C content (Tankersley et al., 1987, 2017). 
Contamination with bacteria or fungi These factors increase samples' 14C content (Lowe, 1989; Bonvicini et al., 2003; Tankersley et al., 2017). 
Burial This factor can increase samples' 14C content via bicarbonate in groundwater and via crystallization of calcite (Zazzo & Saliège, 2011; Oslen et al., 2013; van der Plicht & Palstra, 2016). 
Cremation Radiocarbon dating of cremated bones destroys the collagen in the bones and adds 14C from the wood used in the fire (Olsen et al., 2013). 
Fluctuation in atmospheric 14C through millennia This factor causes elevation of 14C in samples from some past time intervals and reduction of 14C in samples from other past time intervals (Goslar et al., 2000). 
The reservoir effect: the tendency of lakes and the ocean to act as reservoirs for old carbon derived from dissolved CO2 and carbonate rocks that are radiocarbon-depleted Due to the reservoir effect, the carbon content of lake and marine samples is 14C-depleted. The magnitude of the reservoir effect varies from one location to the next within the ocean, from one lake to the next, and from one shelled species to the next (Nadeau et al., 2001; Nakamura et al., 2007; Nakanishi et al., 2015; Wang et al., 2017). It is responsible for the famous case in which the shells of live freshwater mollusks yielded false radiocarbon “ages” of thousands of years, due to the mollusks' incorporation of radiocarbon-depleted carbonate into their shells (Keith & Anderson, 1963). It also affects radiocarbon dating of the remains of terrestrial organisms that feed on marine organisms (e.g., humans that eat seafood; Arneborg et al., 1999; Mihara et al., 2004). 
Volcanic gases Samples' exposure to this factor adds 14C-depleted carbon (Pasquier-Cardin et al., 1999). 
Industrial emission of fossil fuels Samples' exposure to this factor adds 14C-depleted carbon (Quarta et al., 2007; Flores et al., 2017). 
Nuclear explosions and fallout Samples' exposure to these factors increases their 14C content (Gentry et al., 1998; McGee et al., 2004; Lachner et al., 2014; Yang et al., 2017). 
Contamination with coal This factor increases samples' 14C content (Tankersley et al., 1987, 2017). 
Contamination with bacteria or fungi These factors increase samples' 14C content (Lowe, 1989; Bonvicini et al., 2003; Tankersley et al., 2017). 
Burial This factor can increase samples' 14C content via bicarbonate in groundwater and via crystallization of calcite (Zazzo & Saliège, 2011; Oslen et al., 2013; van der Plicht & Palstra, 2016). 
Cremation Radiocarbon dating of cremated bones destroys the collagen in the bones and adds 14C from the wood used in the fire (Olsen et al., 2013). 
Fluctuation in atmospheric 14C through millennia This factor causes elevation of 14C in samples from some past time intervals and reduction of 14C in samples from other past time intervals (Goslar et al., 2000). 
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