Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods

Living Edition
| Editors: W. Jack Rink, Jeroen Thompson

Bomb Carbon

  • George S. Burr
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6326-5_26-2



Bomb carbon refers to anthropogenic radiocarbon produced and released into the atmosphere during aboveground nuclear weapons testing, primarily between 1945 and 1963.


When Willard Libby introduced the radiocarbon method (Libby et al. 1949), global atmospheric radiocarbon (14C) from nuclear weapons fallout was undetectable. This soon changed, however, as weapons testing programs accelerated during the 1950s and into the 1960s. At the same time, new radiocarbon laboratories were being established in Europe, North America, Africa, and Australia. It did not take long for researchers to discover a dramatic increase in atmospheric 14C from nuclear weapons testing fallout, in both the Northern Hemisphere (de Vries 1958; Broecker and Walton 1959; Münnich and Vogel 1958) and the Southern Hemisphere (Rafter and Fergusson 1957; Münnich and Vogel 1958; Broecker and Walton 1959). This...


Nuclear Weapon Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Annual Growth Ring World Ocean Circulation Experiment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NSF-Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry LaboratoryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA