How to solve radiometric dating questions
Deep oceans, the biosphere, and carbonate rocks are giant reservoirs of carbon and with the addition of the atmosphere they constitute the carbon cycle of the Earth.
Within this cycle, radioactive carbon-14 is continuously created and disintegrated. Since the total amount of carbon on the Earth is constant, a constant ratio is established between the amount of stable and radioactive carbon.
But how accurate is an age determined by this method?
How dependable is this technique for enlightening us about the past?
The most important ones are explained below: Changes in the Earth’s magnetic field are believed to be responsible for long-term deviations in radiocarbon dating.
By investigating the orientation of magnetic minerals in ancient rocks, geologists have proven that the magnetic field surrounding the Earth has not been constant throughout the time.
This goes on until a very minuscule, undetectable amount remains.
In bodies less than 50,000 years in age the amount of radiocarbon can be detected.
Living beings continuously take up both atoms, so the ratio of both atoms in their bodies remains constant throughout their life.
Although the theory seems quite consistent from a general outlook, one can see it is not the case when analyzed more rigorously.
Archeologists have tried different ways to test the accuracy of the method.
This same ratio is valid in all the reservoirs of carbon in this giant cycle.
In the biosphere, both carbon-14 and carbon-12 atoms are added to the food chain via assimilation; first by plants through photosynthesis and then by animals through consumption of the plants.
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For an older body, the amount of radiocarbon is so small that the instruments would be unable to measure the amount of radiocarbon present.