### Radiocarbon dating - Wikipedia

Radiocarbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic C there is to be detected, and because the half-life of 14 reported by a laboratory, and reading across from that date on the vertical axis of the graph. represent carbon atoms before decay. 2. Shake the cup and Finally, calculate the theoretical half-life values for all runs and graph them as a third line. Radioactive parent elements decay to stable daughter elements. Radioactivity was . The change in the Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 ratio is the basis for dating.

The half-life is plotted as a red point. One funny property of exponential decay is that the total mass of radioactive isotopes never actually reaches zero.

### Radiometric Dating

The mass just keeps getting closer and closer to zero as the amount of time for the isotope to decay gets larger and larger. Realistically, there are only a fixed number of atoms in a radioactive sample, and so the mass of an isotope will eventually reach zero as all the nuclei decay into another element. How do you read a decay graph?

**Half Life Carbon 14 Dating Exponential Decay**

If a scientist comes across a funky new radioactive rock while exploring an excavation site, she can identify what radioactive isotope is present in it by measuring the the decay constant of the isotopes inside the rock. An exponential decay graph like the one shown above can be generated by taking a sample of an unknown radioactive isotope and repeatedly measuring the total mass of radioactive material within it.

## Radiocarbon dating

At the start of the experiment, a piece of the sample is run through a mass spectrometer or similar device that can identify the relative mass of various isotopes currently present. Then, at several later times, the procedure is repeated and the new fraction of various isotopes is recorded.

One sample of rock is shown decaying and the level of decay is corresponded to points on a decay graph. The fraction of radioactive isotopes observed in the spectrometer will decrease exponentially in time, while the mass of decay products like boron for carbon will gradually increase. The scientist can use this information to draw an exponential decay plot like the one above and estimate the decay constant.

## Decay graphs and half lives article

She can then look her value up in a glossary of known radioactive decay constants to figure out which isotope is in her sample. Another type of graph that scientists like to use to show nuclear decay data is a semilog plot shown below Mass versus time graph, with the half-life indicated by a red dot.

Semilog plots are pretty tricky because the vertical axis has funny spacing. In the plot above, appears to come halfway between 10 and So when we read the slope on a semilog plot, we need to remember to always take the logarithm of whatever values we read off the vertical axis.

Glauconite is a good example.

### BioMath: Carbon Dating

Glauconite contains potassium, so it can be dated using the potassium-argon technique. How does Carbon dating work? Cosmic rays from the sun strike Nitrogen 14 atoms in the atmosphere and cause them to turn into radioactive Carbon 14, which combines with oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide.

Living things are in equilibrium with the atmosphere, and the radioactive carbon dioxide is absorbed and used by plants. The radioactive carbon dioxide gets into the food chain and the carbon cycle.

All living things contain a constant ratio of Carbon 14 to Carbon At death, Carbon 14 exchange ceases and any Carbon 14 in the tissues of the organism begins to decay to Nitrogen 14, and is not replenished by new C The change in the Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 ratio is the basis for dating. The half-life is so short years that this method can only be used on materials less than 70, years old.

Archaeological dating uses this method. Also useful for dating the Pleistocene Epoch Ice Ages.