Carbon dating isotope

21-Aug-2020 10:52

The approximate time since the organism died can be worked out by measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in its remains compared to the amount in living organisms.

Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.

Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

The carbon-14 method was developed by the American physicist Willard F. 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.

Top of page You read statements in books that such and such a society or archeological site is 20,000 years old.Once an organism dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.