Looking at the graph, 100% of radiocarbon in a sample will be reduced to 50% after 5730 years.
In 11,460 years, half of the 50% will remain, or 25%, and so on.
Plankton absorbs, Carbon-14 from the ocean much like terrestrial plants absorb Carbon-14 from the air.
Since plankton is the foundation of the marine food chain, Carbon-14 is spread throughout aquatic life.
As long as there is organic material present, radiocarbon dating is a universal dating technique that can be applied anywhere in the world.
It is good for dating for the last 50,000 years to about 400 years ago and can create chronologies for areas that previously lacked calendars.
Therefore, radiocarbon dates need to be calibrated with other dating techniques to ensure accuracy.
An extensive tree-ring sequence from the present to 6700 BC was developed in Arizona using California bristlecone pine (), some of which are 4900 years old, making them the oldest living things on earth.
After an organism dies, the radiocarbon decreases through a regular pattern of decay. The time taken for half of the atoms of a radioactive isotope to decay in Carbon-14’s case is about 5730 years.
Half-lives vary according to the isotope, for example, Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4500 million years where as Nitrogen-17 has a half-life of 4.173 seconds!
Absolute dating represents the absolute age of the sample before the present.
Historical documents and calendars can be used to find such absolute dates; however, when working in a site without such documents, it is hard for absolute dates to be determined.
Rodents, for example, can create havoc in a site by moving items from one context to another.
Natural disasters like floods can sweep away top layers of sites to other locations.
The Mayan calendar used 3114 BC as their reference.
More recently is the radiocarbon date of 1950 AD or before present, BP.
In a stratigraphical context objects closer to the surface are more recent in time relative to items deeper in the ground.
Although relative dating can work well in certain areas, several problems arise.