The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 1940's.It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field.It is not difficult to see how such a claim could arise, however.
Radiocarbon is not used to date the age of rocks or to determine the age of the earth.
If this water is in contact with significant quantities of limestone, it will contain many carbon atoms from dissolved limestone.
Since limestone contains very little, if any, radiocarbon, clam shells will contain less radiocarbon than would have been the case if they had gotten their carbon atoms from the air.
Since no reliable historically dated artifacts exist which are older than 5,000 years, it has not been possible to determine the relationship of radiocarbon years to calendar years for objects which yield dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years.
Thus, it is possible (and, given the Flood, probable) that materials which give radiocarbon dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years could have true ages of many fewer calendar years. The shells of live freshwater clams have been radiocarbon dated in excess of 1600 years old, clearly showing that the radiocarbon dating technique is not valid.
In the early days of radiocarbon analysis this limit was often around 20,000 radiocarbon years.