Famous uses of carbon dating
Finally, although radiocarbon dating is the most common and widely used chronometric technique in archaeology today, it is not unfailing. Whenever possible multiple samples should be collected and dated from associated sections.The trend of the samples will provide a ball park estimate of the actual date of deposition.In addition, there are substantial reservoirs of carbon in organic matter, the ocean, ocean sediments, and sedimentary rock.
There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.
Libby estimated that the steady state radioactivity concentration of exchangeable carbon 14 would be about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram.
In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.
The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.
The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.