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Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.
Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.
The possible confounding effects of contamination of parent and daughter isotopes have to be considered, as do the effects of any loss or gain of such isotopes since the sample was created.
It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.
For instance, carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years.
After an organism has been dead for 60,000 years, so little carbon-14 is left that accurate dating cannot be established.
In many cases, the daughter nuclide itself is radioactive, resulting in a decay chain, eventually ending with the formation of a stable (nonradioactive) daughter nuclide; each step in such a chain is characterized by a distinct half-life.
Radiometric dating, radioactive dating or radioisotope dating is a technique which is used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed.