Radiocarbon dating (sometimes simply known as carbon dating) is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 (C) to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" (BP), "Present" being defined as 1950. Such raw ages can be calibrated to give calendar dates. One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites. When plants fix atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic material during photosynthesis they incorporate a quantity of C that approximately matches the level of this isotope in the atmosphere (a small difference occurs because of isotope fractionation, but this is corrected after laboratory analysis). After plants die or they are consumed by other organisms (for example, by humans or other animals) the C fraction of this organic material declines at a fixed exponential rate due to the radioactive decay of C. Comparing the remaining C fraction of a sample to that expected from atmospheric C allows the age of the sample to be

Publisher
Elsevier
History
1964-present
Website
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00086223
Impact factor
4.893 (2010)

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