Start What radioactive decay is used in carbon dating

What radioactive decay is used in carbon dating

Common materials for radiocarbon dating are: The radiocarbon formed in the upper atmosphere is mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Because the carbon present in a plant comes from the atmosphere in this way, the radio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the plant is virtually the same as that in the atmosphere.

Once an organism dies the carbon is no longer replaced.

Because the radiocarbon is radioactive, it will slowly decay away.

As explained below, the radiocarbon date tells us when the organism was alive (not when the material was used).

This fact should always be remembered when using radiocarbon dates.

All animals in the food chain, including carnivores, get their carbon indirectly from plant material, even if it is by eating animals which themselves eat plants.

The net effect of this is that all living organisms have the same radiocarbon to stable carbon ratio as the atmosphere.

For radiocarbon dating to be possible, the material must once have been part of a living organism.