Radiometric dating holocene samples

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As 14C decays it emits a weak beta particle (b ), or electron, which possesses an average energy of 160ke V.

The decay can be shown: Thus, the 14C decays back to 14N.

Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.

The reaction is: (Where n is a neutron and p is a proton).By measuring the C14 concentration or residual radioactivity of a sample whose age is not known, it is possible to obtain the countrate or number of decay events per gram of Carbon.By comparing this with modern levels of activity (1890 wood corrected for decay to 1950 AD) and using the measured half-life it becomes possible to calculate a date for the death of the sample.There is a useful diagrammatic representation of this process given here Libby, Anderson and Arnold (1949) were the first to measure the rate of this decay.They found that after 5568 years, half the C14 in the original sample will have decayed and after another 5568 years, half of that remaining material will have decayed, and so on (see figure 1 below).

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