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radiocarbon dating coursework

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1. Frank William Libby invented the method of using the half-life of carbon-14 to date objects,

2. Radiocarbon dating is used to date a variety of sources  but the main factor is that the sources would have had to once be a carbon-life form the carbon is passed through living things through the food-chain starting from the plants who breathe it in from the upper atmosphere. Examples include:

Wooden objects






Ships e.t.c

3. a) this  is the time taken for half of the nuclei in a radioactive source to decay. For example, the half-life of carbon-14 is 5730 years.

  b) On graph paper

  c) The half-life of carbon-14 according to my graph is about 5700-5720 years as you can see on my graph, it took 5700 years for the com to decrease from 1200 to 60 and another 5700 years for that to half into 30 cpm. This is

...read more.


Also we must use the proper equipment to extract any object as contaminated equipment might affect the results, the equipment used must be pure from any forms of radiation from previous objects as well.

When using carbon dating some geologists use the depth of the object being excavated and compare it with the dating of a different object using a different radioactive source to determine whether the dates are accurate for example, scientists could use uranium-238 to date rock samples close in depth to the carbon sample and if the two dates match, the results would be fairly accurate.

4. limitations of carbon-14 dating

Although it is a fairly accurate and effective method of dating there are some limitations to using carbon-14 dating:

The size of the sample used is important, large samples are very useful as these can be purified and cleaned to

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5. uranium-238 dating

Uranium-238 is a highly radioactive source used to date objects such as rocks. When uranium decays it slowly turns into lead, lead is not radioactive and the presence of lead in the rock would stay constant, we can then use the ratio of lead to uranium to find out how much time has passed since it was formed. E.g. the half-life of uranium-238 is about 4500 million years. So after every 4500 million years half the uranium turns into lead, if the proportion of uranium to lead in a rock is about ¼ uranium to ¾ lead then we can tell that the rock is about 9 million years old(two half-lives).

Uranium is used for dating rocks because it has a very long half-life and rocks are extremely old so it is appropriate for this kind of dating and although this method also has its limitations it is a very successful method of dating

  1. physics for you page 352(copy enclosed)
  2. www.wikipedia.org
  3. www.geology.about.com/od.geotime_dating/a/uraniumlead.htm

...read more.

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