Carbon-14 reacts identically to Carbon-12 and is rapidly oxidised to form (Carbon-14)Dioxide.Since all living organisms on Earth are made up of organic molecules that contain Carbon atoms derived from the atmosphere, they therefore contain Carbon-14 atoms.
For groundwater, this means that C is a widely used tool to establish chronologies for groundwater flow systems and climate records for the Holocene and Pleistocene.
It is considered to be the most important tool for age dating of ‘old’ groundwater.
Generally, however, they are useful either because we can detect their radioactivity or we can use the energy they release.
Radioactive isotopes are effective tracers because their radioactivity is easy to detect.
Half of the remaining Carbon-14 then decays over the next 5730 years leaving one fourth of the original amount.
By measuring the ratio of Carbon-14 in a sample and comparing it to the amount in a recently deceased sample its date can be determined.
(Recall that tritium, H, is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.) Tracers can also be used to follow the steps of a complex chemical reaction.
After incorporating radioactive atoms into reactant molecules, scientists can track where the atoms go by following their radioactivity.
Radioactive isotopes are useful for establishing the ages of various objects.
The half-life of radioactive isotopes is unaffected by any environmental factors, so the isotope acts like an internal clock.
Shroud of Turin In 1989, several groups of scientists used carbon-14 dating to demonstrate that the age of the Shroud of Turin was only 600–700 y.