Uses of radioactive carbon dating

23-Jun-2019 02:08

Generally, however, they are useful because either we can detect their radioactivity or we can use the energy they release.Radioactive isotopes are effective tracers because their radioactivity is easy to detect.The unstable Carbon-14 is transported down to the lower atmosphere by atmospheric activity such as storms.Carbon-14 reacts identically to Carbon-12 and is rapidly oxidised to form (Carbon-14)Dioxide.Most radiocarbon dating today is done using an accelerator mass spectrometer, an instrument that directly counts the numbers of carbon-14 and carbon-12 in a sample.A detailed description of radiocarbon dating is available at the Wikipedia radiocarbon dating web page.

It’s not absolutely constant due to several variables that affect the levels of cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere, such as the fluctuating strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, solar cycles that influence the amount of cosmic rays entering the solar system, climatic changes and human activities.

This plot shows the level of carbon-14 in the atmosphere as measured in New Zealand (red) and Austria (green), representing the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, respectively.