Radiocarbon dating definition dictionary


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.

The different isotopes of carbon do not differ appreciably in their chemical properties. This resemblance is used in chemical and biological research, in a technique called carbon labeling : carbon-14 atoms can be used to replace nonradioactive carbon, in order to trace chemical and biochemical reactions involving carbon atoms from any given organic compound.

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".


Radiocarbon dating definition dictionary

Radiocarbon dating definition dictionary



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