Why is carbon 14 useful in radioactive dating

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Long tree-ring sequences have been developed throughout the world and can be used to check and calibrate radiocarbon dates.

An extensive tree-ring sequence from the present to 6700 BC was developed in Arizona using California bristlecone pine (), some of which are 4900 years old, making them the oldest living things on earth.

More recently is the radiocarbon date of 1950 AD or before present, BP.

Radiocarbon is then taken in by plants through photosynthesis, and these plants in turn are consumed by all the organisms on the planet.

So every living thing has a certain amount of radiocarbon within them.

Shellfish remains are common in coastal and estuarine archaeological sites, but dating these samples require a correction for the “reservoir effect” a process whereby "old carbon" is recycled and incorporated into marine life especially shellfish inflating their actual age in some cases several centuries.

In recognition of this problem archaeologists have developed regional reservoir correction rates based on ocean bottom topography, water temperature, coastline shape and paired samples of terrestrial and marine objects found together in an archaeological feature such as a hearth.

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