One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites.
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Signals of this kind are often used by chemists studying natural environments.
A hydrocarbon found in beach sediments, for example, might derive from an oil spill or from waxes produced by plants.
The pathway from the plant to the molecule may have been indirect or lengthy, involving multiple physical, chemical, and biological processes.
Levels of C can represent either mixtures of modern and dead carbon or carbon that was fixed from the atmosphere less than 50,000 years ago.
However, it is also used to determine ages of rocks, plants, trees, etc.