Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.
What is the purpose of carbon dating?
What is Radiocarbon Dating? Radiocarbon dating is a method that provides objective age estimates for carbon-based materials that originated from living organisms. An age could be estimated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 present in the sample and comparing this against an internationally used reference standard.
What is carbon dating and how does it work?
The basis of radiocarbon dating is simple: all living things absorb carbon from the atmosphere and food sources around them, including a certain amount of natural, radioactive carbon-14. When the plant or animal dies, they stop absorbing, but the radioactive carbon that theyve accumulated continues to decay.
What happens to the carbon 12 atoms while the carbon 14 atoms are decaying?
Carbon-12 atoms have stable nuclei because of the 1:1 ratio of protons and neutrons. Carbon-14 atoms have nuclei which are unstable. C-14 atoms will undergo alpha decay and produce atoms of N-14.
Why is carbon 13 important?
The importance of C13 is all the greater because two of the three radioactive isotopes of carbon decay too rapidly to be suitable tracers, while the remaining one (C14) has so long a life (3,000 years) that its detection by radioactive methods is relatively insensitive.