Natural radioactivity and carbon 13 dating

Radiocarbon dating may only be used on organic materials.

natural radioactivity and carbon 13 dating-39

AMS works slightly differently; it converts the atoms of the sample into fast-moving ions so that they become charged atoms.

By applying magnetic and electrical fields, the mass of these ions is measured and the accelerator is used to remove ions that might contaminate the dating.

AMS counts the quantity of C isotope is constantly formed in the upper atmosphere thanks to the effects of cosmic rays on nitrogen-14 atoms.

It is oxidised quickly and absorbed in great quantities by all living organisms - animal and plant, land and ocean dwelling alike.

The next big step in the radiocarbon dating method would be Accelerated Mass Spectrometry which was developed in the late 1980s and published its first results in 1994 (3).

This was a giant leap forward in that it offered far more accurate dates for a far smaller sample (9); this made destruction of samples a far less delicate issue to researchers, especially on artefacts such as The Shroud of Turin for which accurate dates were now possible without damaging a significant part of the artefact.

There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.

The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.

date of organic material - but an approximate age, usually within a range of a few years either way.

The other method is “Relative Dating” which gives an order of events without giving an exact age (1): typically artefact typology or the study of the sequence of the evolution of fossils.

However, the principle of carbon-14 dating applies to other isotopes as well.

Tags: , ,