Question: How do scientists use carbon dating to determine the age of a fossil?

Scientists can determine how long ago an organism died by measuring how much carbon-14 is left relative to the carbon-12. Carbon-14 has a half life of 5730 years, meaning that 5730 years after an organism dies, half of its carbon-14 atoms have decayed to nitrogen atoms.

How is C 14 dating used to determine the age of a fossil?

Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon, with a half-life of 5,730 years. It decays within fixed rate of time. The carbon-14 decays at this constant rate. It estimates the date at which an organism died by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

What is the maximum age limit for radiocarbon dating of fossils?

Radiocarbon has a short half-life of only about 5700 years, so it is only useful for dating materials no older than about 50,000 years (van der Plicht & Palstra, 2016). Of the radiocarbon that was present in an organism at the time of its death, no measurable amount remains after 100,000 years.

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