Radioactive carbon dating of the earth

Atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.

Here’s an example using the simplest atom, hydrogen. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon that will eventually decay at a known rate to become carbon-12.

Follow the links in this post to learn more about radiocarbon dating.

It cannot be used to date volcanic rocks, for example.

The rate of decay of N in 5,730 years (plus or minus 40 years).

As we mentioned above, the carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio in the atmosphere remains nearly constant.

It’s not absolutely constant due to several variables that affect the levels of cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere, such as the fluctuating strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, solar cycles that influence the amount of cosmic rays entering the solar system, climatic changes, and human activities.

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