Carbon 14 decay dating method

16-Jun-2014 02:15 by 7 Comments

Carbon 14 decay dating method

Normally, scientists measure the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 as C, because this ratio will be constant for a steady cosmic ray flux (inflow).However, two significant factors cause changes to this ratio in living organisms.

First, they must explain why the technique is unreliable.Second, they must explain how a technique as straightforward as counting tree rings correlates so well with an “unreliable” method.A more reasonable conclusion is that the correlation between carbon-14 and tree ring data, in conjunction with other dating methods like varves, provides strong evidence for an Earth older than 6,000 to 10,000 years. The most relevant human factors affecting carbon-14 production stem from burning fossil fuels (starting in the 1890s) and nuclear bomb testing (starting in the 1940s).Because radioactive decay occurs in the nucleus of carbon atoms, decay rates are almost impervious to any environmental conditions such as corrosive chemicals, temperature, and pressure.Yet scientists have measured changes in a handful of decay rates.So, burning fossil fuels makes the C ratio—at one point to twice its preindustrial value. Because cosmic rays only produce carbon-14 in the atmosphere, not all living organisms incorporate the same initial concentration. Trees absorb carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere (one reservoir).

Thus, radiocarbon dates for tree remains require no reservoir corrections and provide the standard for radiocarbon dating. However, their main food supply is seafood that draws its carbon from underwater sources (a second reservoir) not in direct contact with the atmosphere.

After 11,460 years (two half-lives), only 256 atoms are left.

After ten half-lives (or 57,300 years), less than one-thousandth of the original amount remains.

However, these errors do not affect anything dating over 150 years old.

Fossil fuels like coal and oil formed from the remains of organisms that died millions of years ago.

Consequently, all the original carbon-14 these organisms absorbed from the atmosphere has already decayed away.

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