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The term applies to all methods of age determination based on nuclear decay of naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes.
Carbon-14 methods are often used to determine the age of peat or wood found in BARRIER ISLANDS.
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Carbon 14 is continually being created in the Earth's atmosphere by the interaction of nitrogen and gamma rays from outer space.
Since atmospheric carbon 14 arises at about the same rate that the atom decays, the Earth's levels of carbon 14 have remained constant.
Libby received the Nobel Prize for his work in 1960.
The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
However, as with any dating technique there are limits to the kinds of things that can be satisfactorily dated, levels of precision and accuracy, age range constraints, and different levels of susceptibility to contamination.