This gives the clam shell an artificially old radiocarbon age.
This problem, known as the "," is not of very great practical importance for radiocarbon dating since most of the artifacts which are useful for radiocarbon dating purposes and are of interest to archaeology derive from terrestrial organisms which ultimately obtain their carbon atoms from air, not the water. Samples of coal have been found with radiocarbon ages of only 20,000 radiocarbon years or less, thus proving the recent origin of fossil fuels, probably in the Flood.
The shells of live freshwater clams can, and often do, give anomalous radiocarbon results.
However, the reason for this is understood and the problem is restricted to only a few special cases, of which freshwater clams are the best-known example.
Radiocarbon is not used to date the age of rocks or to determine the age of the earth.
By radiocarbon dating a piece of wood which has been dated by counting the annual growth rings of trees back to when that piece of wood grew, a calibration table can be constructed to convert radiocarbon years to true calendar years.
Of course, the table, so constructed, will only give the correct calibration if the tree-ring chronology which was used to construct it had placed each ring in the true calendar year in which it grew.
For this reason special precautions need to be exercised when sampling materials which contain only small amounts of radiocarbon.
Reports of young radiocarbon ages for coal probably all stem from a misunderstanding of one or both of these two factors.