Carbon dating activities

According to literature, nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s have nearly doubled the atmospheric carbon 14 content as measured in around 1965.The level of bomb carbon was about 100% above normal levels between 19.This carbon dioxide is no different from those produced by carbon 12 and carbon 13; hence, carbon dioxide with carbon 14 has the same fate as those produced with the other carbon isotopes.

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The approximate time since the organism died can be worked out by measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in its remains compared to the amount in living organisms.

The radiocarbon dating method is based on certain assumptions on the global concentration of carbon 14 at any given time.

Radiocarbon’s entry into the global carbon cycle starts in the atmosphere where it is formed by the interaction of neutrons produced by cosmic rays with nitrogen atoms.

The carbon 14 produced reacts with oxygen atoms in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide.

One assumption is that the global levels of carbon 14 (also called radiocarbon) in the atmosphere has not changed over time.

The other assumption is the corollary of the first; the biosphere has the same overall concentration of radiocarbon as the atmosphere due to equilibrium.

The bomb effect refers to the phenomenon that produced “artificial” radiocarbon in the atmosphere due to nuclear bombs.

Nuclear weapons testing brought about a reaction that simulated atmospheric production of carbon 14 in unnatural quantities.

There are two human activities recognized to have irreparably changed the global radiocarbon levels—the burning of fossil fuel and nuclear weapons testing.

Burning of large quantities of fossil fuels like coal, referred as the Suess effect, had significantly lowered the radiocarbon concentration of the atmospheric carbon reservoir.


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