Radioisotopes in carbon dating
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.
Carbon-14 can not be used to measure the age of very young specimens as the difference between the amount of carbon-12 and carbon-14 will not be sufficient to be detected.
Carbon-14 dating relies on the following assumptions: It is known that the radiocarbon content of the atmosphere has varied in the past, so the initial activity of carbon-14 has NOT been a constant.
It should be noted that it is not the artefact that is being dated, it is the soot, ash or charring.