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Used tens of thousands of times, car­bon-14 (C-14) dating continues to be an es­sential tool for archeology. I will attempt to explain this in an archeological (down to earth) way. These are carbon-12 (the most plenti­ful), carbon-13, and carbon-14.

Only C-14 is radioactive, the other two are called "stable isotopes." C-14 forms from nitrogen-14 in the upper atmosphere by cosmic radiation from the sun.

More than simple remnants, the shells constitute the base of the mounds, which can reach up to 30 m in height.

Despite being the most abundant and well preserved material found in this type of site, for chronological studies marine shells are often avoided due to the lack of knowledge about local marine reservoir effects.

This radioactive form of carbon reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, a gas in our atmosphere. Animals eat plants, and some animals eat other animals, so a very small part of living bodies is made of radioactive C-14.

While living, they bring in C-14 and also get rid of it as part of waste products.

In Brazilian archaeological shellmounds, many species of land snails are found abundantly distributed throughout the occupational layers, forming a contextualized set of samples within the sites and offering a potential alternative to the use of charcoal for radiocarbon dating analyses.

In order to confirm the effectiveness of this alternative, one needs to prove that the mollusk shells reflect the atmospheric carbon isotopic concentration in the same way charcoal does.

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Scientists call this rate or speed of decay a "half-life." One half-life equals the length of time for half of the isotope to decay. So if we start with 1 pound of C-14, after 5,730 years we should have % pound of C-14. It decayed back to the stable, non­radioactive nitrogen-14.Carbon-14 decays to nitrogen-14 by emitting an electron and a neutrino, and it does so with a half-life of 5,730 years.Thus, if one started with 1,024 atoms of carbon-14, after 5,730 years, only 512 would remain.Conceivably you could do some kind of statistical analysis based on the amount of filled versus empty seashells and the age of the filled ones.(If seashells take one critter-lifetime to decay, you should see roughly equal numbers of live and dead shells) Most seashells are only a couple years old, using the dating method below.Even with these weird––and challenging from an old-earth perspective––results, radiocarbon (or, carbon-14) dating remains one of the best tools for determining the ages of things that lived from 500 to 50,000 years ago. Carbon-14 (C) is a naturally occurring radioisotope of carbon and is found in trace amounts on Earth.