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The transfer between the ocean shallow layer and the large reservoir of bicarbonates in the ocean depths occurs at a limited rate.--or rather, its relative absence—is therefore used to determine the relative contribution (or mixing ratio) of fossil fuel oxidation to the total carbon dioxide in a given region of the Earth's atmosphere.Dating a specific sample of fossilized carbonaceous material is more complicated.A calculation or (more accurately) a direct comparison of carbon-14 levels in a sample, with tree ring or cave-deposit carbon-14 levels of a known age, then gives the wood or animal sample age-since-formation.
In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for this work.
It is typically released to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide at BWRs, and methane at PWRs., radioactive carbon dioxide.
The gas mixes rapidly and becomes evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere (the mixing timescale in the order of weeks).
Carbon-14 can be used as a radioactive tracer in medicine.
In the initial variant of the urea breath test, a diagnostic test for Helicobacter pylori, urea labeled with approximately 37 k Bq (1.0 µCi) carbon-14 is fed to a patient (i.e., 37,000 decays per second). pylori infection, the bacterial urease enzyme breaks down the urea into ammonia and radioactively-labeled carbon dioxide, which can be detected by low-level counting of the patient's breath.