Radiometric dating methods science

11 Oct

In these cases, usually the half-life of interest in radiometric dating is the longest one in the chain, which is the rate-limiting factor in the ultimate transformation of the radioactive nuclide into its stable daughter.

Isotopic systems that have been exploited for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from only about 10 years (e.g., tritium) to over 100 billion years (e.g., Samarium-147).

Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating.

All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.

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Therefore, in any material containing a radioactive nuclide, the proportion of the original nuclide to its decay product(s) changes in a predictable way as the original nuclide decays over time.

The possible confounding effects of contamination of parent and daughter isotopes have to be considered, as do the effects of any loss or gain of such isotopes since the sample was created.

The procedures used to isolate and analyze the parent and daughter nuclides must be precise and accurate.

This normally involves isotope ratio mass spectrometry.

Alternatively, if several different minerals can be dated from the same sample and are assumed to be formed by the same event and were in equilibrium with the reservoir when they formed, they should form an isochron. In uranium-lead dating, the concordia diagram is used which also decreases the problem of nuclide loss.

Finally, correlation between different isotopic dating methods may be required to confirm the age of a sample.