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Carbon dating in Mars

  1. Feb 24, 2014 #1

    I would like to know two things:

    1. Is it possible to use radiometric dating on samples of rocks collected from Mars?
    2. If so, in which situations would such method be impossible to use or would wield inaccurate results?

    Thanks a lot for your help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2014 #2
    Radiometric dating, yes. But not carbon dating since carbon dating is used to date things like wood or other material derived from living things. You won't find any of that in Mars. But if you want to date rocks using radiometric methods (other than C14), then it should work.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  4. Feb 24, 2014 #3
    What if we found life in Mars, for an example? Would carbon dating work the same way it did on earth?
  5. Feb 24, 2014 #4
    In principle yes, but it would have to be recalibrate. On earth the amount of C14 in the atmosphere is kept more or less constant because the amount of decay is in equilibrium with C14 production in collisions of cosmic rays with Nitrogen atoms. On mars the amount of nitrogen in the atmosphere and the amount of cosmic rays are different so the amount of C14 is bound to be different. Note as well that we're implicitly assuming that the life form is drawing its carbon from the atmosphere. That's usually the case on Earth, but there are exceptions.
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