Can radiometric dating tell us


20-Feb-2015 02:12

Radioactive elements are unstable; they breakdown spontaneously into more stable atoms over time, a process known as radioactive decay.

Radioactive decay occurs at a constant rate, specific to each radioactive isotope.

Since the 1950s, geologists have used radioactive elements as natural "clocks" for determining numerical ages of certain types of rocks. "Forms" means the moment an igneous rock solidifies from magma, a sedimentary rock layer is deposited, or a rock heated by metamorphism cools off.

It's this resetting process that gives us the ability to date rocks that formed at different times in earth history.

Radioactive elements were incorporated into the Earth when the Solar System formed.

All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.

It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their , and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already (refer to "Other Sources" for more information).

A commonly used radiometric dating technique relies on the breakdown of potassium (Ar in an igneous rock can tell us the amount of time that has passed since the rock crystallized.

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When living things die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the radioactive clock is "set"!

Any dead material incorporated with sedimentary deposits is a possible candidate for carbon-14 dating.