Skip to main content
Select Source:

carbon isotopes

carbon isotopes The naturally occurring isotopes of carbon, of which there are three: 12C making up about 98.9 per cent; 13C about 1.1 per cent; and 14C whose amount is negligible, but which is detectable because it is radioactive. The relative abundance of these isotopes varies and the study of this variation is an important tool in geologic research, especially radiometric dating. Carbon-isotope dating is a method of radiometric age-dating using the amount of the heavy, radioactive isotope carbon-14 remaining in organic matter. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 ± 40 years and the amount of the isotope present can be used to date materials up to about 50 000 years old (see radiocarbon dating). Measurement of the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 allows the recognition of carbonate precipitated from a variety of different sources.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carbon isotopes." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carbon isotopes." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carbon-isotopes-0

"carbon isotopes." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carbon-isotopes-0

carbon isotopes

carbon isotopes Natural carbon is composed of three isotopes: 12C making up about 98.9%; 13C about 1.1%; and 14C whose amount is negligible, but which is detectable because it is radioactive. The relative abundance of these isotopes varies and the study of this variation is an important tool in geologic research, especially radiometric dating. Carbon-isotope dating is a method of radiometric age-dating using the amount of the heavy, radioactive isotope carbon-14 remaining in organic matter. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 ± 40 years and the amount of the isotope present can be used to date materials up to about 50 000 years old (see RADIOCARBON DATING). In diagenetic studies (see DIAGENESIS), measurement of the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 allows the recognition of carbonate precipitated from a variety of different sources.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carbon isotopes." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carbon isotopes." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carbon-isotopes

"carbon isotopes." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carbon-isotopes