Radioactive decay and radiometric dating


19-Apr-2017 02:52

The radiocarbon age of a certain sample of unknown age can be determined by measuring its carbon 14 content and comparing the result to the carbon 14 activity in modern and background samples.

The principal modern standard used by radiocarbon dating labs was the Oxalic Acid I obtained from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. Around 95% of the radiocarbon activity of Oxalic Acid I is equal to the measured radiocarbon activity of the absolute radiocarbon standard—a wood in 1890 unaffected by fossil fuel effects.

By knowing how much carbon 14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism when it died can be known.

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Plants and animals assimilate carbon 14 from carbon dioxide throughout their lifetimes.

Liquid scintillation counting is another radiocarbon dating technique that was popular in the 1960s.

In this method, the sample is in liquid form and a scintillator is added.

This scintillator produces a flash of light when it interacts with a beta particle.

A vial with a sample is passed between two photomultipliers, and only when both devices register the flash of light that a count is made.

Background radiocarbon activity is measured, and the values obtained are deducted from the sample’s radiocarbon dating results.



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