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The ratio is measured using an ordinary mass spectrometer.The isotopic composition of the sample being measured is expressed as δ13C which represents the parts per thousand difference (per mille) between the sample’s carbon 13 content and the content of the international PDB standard carbonate (Keith et al., 1964; Aitken, 1990).

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If isotopic fractionation occurs in natural processes, a correction can be made by measuring the ratio of the isotope 13C to the isotope 12C in the sample being dated.

Fractionation during the geochemical transfer of carbon in nature produces variation in the equilibrium distribution of the isotopes of carbon (12C, 13C and 14C).

Craig (1953) first identified that certain biochemical processes alter the equilibrium between the carbon isotopes.

Atoms of larger or smaller mass may be favored in such a situation.

If, however, the entire sample is converted completely from one form to another (e.g.

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