Isotopes used in radiocarbon dating

02 Jul

This dating method works by measuring the ratio of different isotopes of carbon in a sample using a particle accelerator, such as the ANTARES accelerator at ANSTO. The carbon-12 isotope makes up 99% of all carbon on earth, carbon-13 accounts for almost 1%, and carbon-14 is found in trace amounts.

Carbon-12 and carbon-13 are both stable isotopes, but carbon-14 is unstable and is radioactive.

isotopes used in radiocarbon dating-68isotopes used in radiocarbon dating-88isotopes used in radiocarbon dating-23

We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].

The carbon-14 bomb spike has helped researchers to date Antarctic mosses (pictured above), trees and may be useful for dating human remains, such as teeth, to help identify victims of homicide or mass disasters.

In 2010, Purdue University published a research paper[1] stating that their researchers had detected slight fluctuations in radioactive isotope decay rates "in synch with the rotation of the sun's core." The article also stated: Has there been any further research on this, and has it been found to affect carbon dating techniques or other archeological dating methods? Graven, "Impact of fossil fuel emissions on atmospheric radiocarbon and various applications of radiocarbon over this century," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112.31 (2015): 9542-9545.

Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.

Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.