skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel

Abstract

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.

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
978427
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL-411266
Journal ID: ISSN 0142-2421; SIANDQ; TRN: US1002978
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Surface and Interface Analysis, vol. 42, no. 5, May 1, 2010, pp. 398-401
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 42; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 0142-2421
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; ACCELERATORS; BOMBS; CARBON 14; ENAMELS; FOCUSING; GRAPHITE; ISOTOPE DATING; MASS SPECTROSCOPY; TEETH; TESTING

Citation Formats

Buchholz, B A, and Spalding, K L. Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel. United States: N. p., 2009. Web.
Buchholz, B A, & Spalding, K L. Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel. United States.
Buchholz, B A, and Spalding, K L. Tue . "Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel". United States. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/978427.
@article{osti_978427,
title = {Year of Birth Determination Using Radiocarbon Dating of Dental Enamel},
author = {Buchholz, B A and Spalding, K L},
abstractNote = {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.},
doi = {},
journal = {Surface and Interface Analysis, vol. 42, no. 5, May 1, 2010, pp. 398-401},
issn = {0142-2421},
number = 5,
volume = 42,
place = {United States},
year = {2009},
month = {3}
}