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Published February 1, 1960 | public
Journal Article Open

Transient effects in the distribution of carbon-14 in nature


A prerequisite for accurate dating by means of carbon-14 is the existence of a steady state in the specific activity of the carbon in the atmosphere. The studies(1) which have been made of carbon activity supported the view that there was a state of dynamic equilibrium in the carbon exchange between natural reservoirs. A disturbance in this state is known to arise from the discharge of the combustion products from fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

Additional Information

© 1960 by the National Academy of Sciences. Communicated by Harrison Brown, December 24, 1959. The authors, in conclusion, wish to thank Professor Gerald Wasserburg for many helpful discussions and Dr. Harmon Craig for suggestions regarding carbon distribution data. They are also indebted to Professor Harrison Brown for his interest in this study.


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