Charcoal carbon dating

24 Aug

Longitudinal (C) and transverse (D) section sof the same material after one year of emplacement on a tropical rainforest soil surface, showing dehydrated globular coatings of charcoal surfaces and fungal hyphae.

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Aliquots of the charcoal was placed on and in rainfoest soil at Cape Tribulation in 2009 and is periodically being re-sampled to (i) determine the rates and mechanisms of charcoal degradation, (ii) rates and mechanisms of radiocarbon contamination, and (iii) assess the performance of radiocarbon decontamination techniques on contaminated samples that are known to be radiocarbon dead.The stable form of carbon is carbon 12 and the radioactive isotope carbon 14 decays over time into nitrogen 14 and other particles.Carbon is naturally in all living organisms and is replenished in the tissues by eating other organisms or by breathing air that contains carbon.Radiocarbon dating is useful for dating organic materials as old as 45,000 to 50,000 years, after which little C atoms in a sample decay.Sample sizes of one gram or greater are required for conventional dates.