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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.

It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.The temperature at which this happens is known as the closure temperature or blocking temperature and is specific to a particular material and isotopic system.These temperatures are experimentally determined in the lab by artificially resetting sample minerals using a high-temperature furnace.A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide.This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay (emission of alpha particles) and beta decay (electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture).

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