Radiocarbon dating definition chemistry - Carbon Dating Definition, What is Carbon-14. - Radiocarbon

All living things exchange the gas Carbon 14 (C14) with the atmosphere around them—animals and plants exchange Carbon 14 with the atmosphere, fish and corals exchange carbon with dissolved C14 in the water. Throughout the life of an animal or plant, the amount of C14 is perfectly balanced with that of its surroundings. When an organism dies, that equilibrium is broken. The C14 in a dead organism slowly decays at a known rate: its "half life".

The carbon-14 method was developed by the American physicist Willard F. Libby about 1946. It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from 500 to 50,000 years old. The method is widely used by Pleistocene geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields.

It should be noted that these measurement uncertainties do not increase linearly as one goes back in time. In Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS), for example, the number of radiocarbon atoms in a stream of atoms coming from the sample is counted. Thus there are statistical counting uncertainties proportional to the square root of the number of atoms counted. Older samples have a lower concentration of radiocarbon, but they can be (and often are) counted for longer periods of time to compensate for this lower concentration. By counting longer, the counting uncertainty in a radiocarbon measurement on a very old sample can be the same as that on a young sample.

Radiocarbon dating definition chemistry

Radiocarbon dating definition chemistry