What information is obtained from radioactive dating
Radiocarbon dating estimates can be obtained on wood, charcoal, marine and freshwater shells, bone and antler, and peat and organic-bearing sediments.
They can also be obtained from carbonate deposits such as tufa, calcite, marl, dissolved carbon dioxide, and carbonates in ocean, lake and groundwater sources.
Although relative dating can work well in certain areas, several problems arise.
Rodents, for example, can create havoc in a site by moving items from one context to another.
The numbers refer to the atomic weight, so Carbon-12 has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, Carbon-13 has 6 protons and 7 neutrons, and Carbon-14 has 6 protons and 8 neutrons.
The extra neutrons in Carbon-14’s case make it radioactive (thus the term, radiocarbon).
More information on the sources of error in carbon dating are presented at the bottom of this page.
For example, Christian time counts the birth of Christ as the beginning, AD 1 (Anno Domini); everything that occurred before Christ is counted backwards from AD as BC (Before Christ).
The Greeks consider the first Olympic Games as the beginning or 776 BC.
Carbon dioxide is distributed on a worldwide basis into various atmospheric, biospheric, and hydrospheric reservoirs on a time scale much shorter than its half-life.
Measurements have shown that in recent history, radiocarbon levels have remained relatively constant in most of the biosphere due to the metabolic processes in living organisms and the relatively rapid turnover of carbonates in surface ocean waters.
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The method was developed immediately following World War II by Willard F.