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Radiocarbon dating contains other potential sources of error besides the assumption that the carbon is neither older nor younger than the enclosing sediment S. Trumbore in Noller et al. Radiocarbon dating is the most widely used method for dating Holocene and latest Pleistocene earthquakes. The half-life of radioactive 14 C years limits the application of radiocarbon dating to organic matter formed from carbon fixed within the last 50 —60 years Trumbore,

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Carbon datingalso called radiocarbon datingmethod of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon carbon Radiocarbon present in molecules of atmospheric carbon dioxide enters the biological carbon cycle : it is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain.

Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.

Challenges of the method

Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases. Because carbon decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

The carbon method was developed by the American physicist Willard F. Libby about It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from to 50, years old.

The method is widely used by Pleistocene geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields. Carbon dating.

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Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires. External Websites. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Also Known As: radiocarbon dating Show more Related Topics: Radiometric dating Show more.

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