By sheer coincidence, they are currently studying this exact question.
It turns out that the origin and concentration of C in fossil fuels is important to the physics community because of its relevance for detection of solar neutrinos.
They want to know if it is accurate or if it works at all.
The Carbon-14 dating method was introduced by Dr. Libby (1908-1980) at the University of Chicago in 1949. Carbon-12 is the normal stable isotope of Carbon (99% of all Carbon), which is the basic building block of organic life forms.
He claimed that it was capable of dating animal, plant and human remains of fairly recent origin. As they say on Star Trek, we are all carbon based units.
The presence of C in coal is probably produced de novo by radioactive decay of the uranium-thorium isotope series that is naturally found in rocks (and which is found in varying concentrations in different rocks, hence the variation in C dating.
I picked him to bother with my emails because he had recently written some nice review articles about the AMS technique in the Radiocarbon journal.
Prior to looking at the many flaws in the Carbon-14 Dating Technique, it should be noted that no radiometric technique is reliable.
They all start with similar flaws, but Carbon-14 has more than the rest.
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The Problem: Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), a sensitive radiometric dating technique, is in some cases finding trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 in coal deposits, amounts that seem to indicate an age of around 40,000 years.
Cosmic rays enter the earth's atmosphere in large numbers every day and when one collides with an atom in the atmosphere, it can create a secondary cosmic ray in the form of an energetic neutron.
When these energetic neutrons collide with a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom it turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).
These methods are generally very accurate and valuable, but a couple of considerations must be made regarding certain of these methods.