# Radiometric Dating

Isotopic dating relative to fossil dating requires a great deal of effort and depends on the integrated specialized skills of geologists, chemists, and physicists. It is, nevertheless, a valuable resource that allows correlations to be made over virtually all of Earth history with a precision once only possible with fossiliferous units that are restricted to the most recent 12 percent or so of geologic time. Although any method may be attempted on any unit, the best use of this resource requires that every effort be made to tackle each problem with the most efficient technique. Because of the long half-life of some isotopic systems or the high background or restricted range of parent abundances, some methods are inherently more precise. The skill of a geochronologist is demonstrated by the ability to attain the knowledge required and the precision necessary with the least number of analyses. The factors considered in selecting a particular approach are explored here. As each dating method was developed, tested, and improved, mainly since , a vast body of knowledge about the behaviour of different isotopic systems under different geologic conditions has evolved. It is now clear that with recent advances the uranium—lead method is superior in providing precise age information with the least number of assumptions. The method has evolved mainly around the mineral zircon ZrSiO 4. Because of the limited occurrence of this mineral, it was once true that only certain felsic igneous rocks those consisting largely of the light-coloured, silicon and aluminum -rich minerals feldspar and quartz could be dated.

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Radiometric dating – internal clocks in rocks Geochronology: the science of dating geologic materials. Radioactive decay occurs at an exponential rate, meaning that it can be described in terms of a half life. After one half live, half of the original radioactive isotope material in the system under consideration decays. Another half life and half of the remaining material decays, and so on. This is for unforced decay. Forced decay is when the isotopic material is packed densely enough that a decay in one unstable atom sends out a particle that hits another atom and causes it to decay.

Similarly, the radioactive element uranium decomposes into lead and some other Arriving at a “date” depends upon a chain of assumptions, each link in the.

Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is any technique used to date organic and also inorganic materials from a process involving radioactive decay. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay. The radioactive decay law states that the probability per unit time that a nucleus will decay is a constant, independent of time.

This constant probability may vary greatly between different types of nuclei, leading to the many different observed decay rates. The radioactive decay of certain number of atoms mass is exponential in time. One of the oldest radiometric dating methods is uranium-lead dating. The long half-life of the isotope uranium 4. Uranium-lead dating is based on the measurement of the first and the last member of the uranium series , which is one of three classical radioactive series beginning with naturally occurring uranium This radioactive decay chain consists of unstable heavy atomic nuclei that decay through a sequence of alpha and beta decays until a stable nucleus is achieved.

In case of uranium series, the stable nucleus is lead The assumption made is that all the lead nuclei found in the specimen today were originally uranium nuclei. If no other lead isotopes are found in the specimen, this is a reasonable assumption. Under this condition, the age of the sample can be calculated by assuming exponential decay of uranium That is:.

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Many people assume that carbon dating is used to date rocks and fossils. It is not. Carbon dating is specifically used to provide a date for material which was previously part of a living organism, and even if such ages were possible, does not give an age of over , years. Many geologists will rely on uranium-lead dating to find the age of a rock.

This technique involves measuring the amount of the uranium isotope U in a rock and also the stable isotope lead, into which U decays.

dating techniques are based on certain assumptions (e.g. for radiocarbon The mechanism of uranium uptake in bones and teeth is governed.

About 75 years ago, Williard F. Libby, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, predicted that a radioactive isotope of carbon, known as carbon, would be found to occur in nature. Since carbon is fundamental to life, occurring along with hydrogen in all organic compounds, the detection of such an isotope might form the basis for a method to establish the age of ancient materials.

Working with several collaboraters, Libby established the natural occurrence of radiocarbon by detecting its radioactivity in methane from the Baltimore sewer. In contrast, methane made from petroleum products had no measurable radioactivity. Carbon is produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays bombard nitrogen atoms. The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.

Plants take up c14 along with other carbon isotopes during photosynthesis in the proportions that occur in the atmosphere; animals acquire c14 by eating the plants or other animals. During the lifetime of an organism, the amount of c14 in the tissues remains at an equilibrium since the loss through radioactive decay is balanced by the gain through uptake via photosynthesis or consumption of organically fixed carbon.

However, when the organism dies, the amount of c14 declines such that the longer the time since death the lower the levels of c14 in organic tissue. This is the clock that permits levels of c14 in organic archaeological, geological, and paleontological samples to be converted into an estimate of time. The measurement of the rate of radioactive decay is known as its half-life, the time it takes for half of a sample to decay. This means that half of the c14 has decayed by the time an organism has been dead for years, and half of the remainder has decayed by 11, years after death, etc.

The diminishing levels via decay means that the effective limit for using c14 to estimate time is about 50, years.

## RADIOACTIVE AGE ESTIMATION METHODS—Do they prove the Earth is billions of years old?

Uranium series: The radioactive decay series that starts with U, U and Th and ends with stable isotopes of Pb, Pb and Pb, respectively. Secular equilibrium: A situation in which the quantity of a radioactive isotope remains constant because its production rate due to decay of a parent isotope is equal to its decay rate. Secular equilibrium can only occur in a radioactive decay chain if the half-life of the daughter radioisotope is much shorter than the half-life of the parent radioisotope, as typical of the uranium series decay chains.

This invoked three assumptions: Constant The big problem is with the last assumption. The rock Which rocks are useful for radiometric dating? When you.

The problem : By the mid 19th century it was obvious that Earth was much older than years, but how old? This problem attracted the attention of capable scholars but ultimately depended on serendipitous discoveries. Early attempts : Initially, three lines of evidence were pursued: Hutton attempted to estimate age based on the application of observed rates of sedimentation to the known thickness of the sedimentary rock column, achieving an approximation of 36 million years.

This invoked three assumptions: Constant rates of sedimentation over time Thickness of newly deposited sediments similar to that of resulting sedimentary rocks There are no gaps or missing intervals in the rock record. In fact, each of these is a source of concern. The big problem is with the last assumption. The rock record preserves erosional surfaces that record intervals in which not only is deposition of sediment not occurring, but sediment that was already there who knows how much was removed.

## Uranium-Lead Dating

H ow old is planet Earth? There are enormous differences of opinion. The most common view is that Earth is approximately 4.

Lead isotopes are commonly used in dating rocks and provide some of the best from the decay series of two different uranium isotopes (U and U). The second requirement is that assumptions about the genetic relationship.

The following radioactive decay processes have proven particularly useful in radioactive dating for geologic processes:. Note that uranium and uranium give rise to two of the natural radioactive series , but rubidium and potassium do not give rise to series. They each stop with a single daughter product which is stable. Some of the decays which are useful for dating, with their half-lives and decay constants are:. The half-life is for the parent isotope and so includes both decays.

Some decays with shorter half-lives are also useful. Of these, the 14 C is unique and used in carbon dating. Note that the decay constant scale in the table below was kept the same as the table above for comparison. Parent isotope radioactive Daughter isotope stable Half-life y Decay constant 10 yr -1 10 Be 10 B 1. Of those isotopes, are stable and 70 are radioactive.

## How Does Carbon Dating Work

Lead isotopes are commonly used in dating rocks and provide some of the best evidence for the Earth’s age. In order to be used as a natural clock to calculate the age of the earth, the processes generating lead isotopes must meet the four conditions of a natural clock: an irreversible process, a uniform rate, an initial condition, and a final condition. Dalrymple cites examples of lead isotope dating that give an age for the earth of about 4.

Uranium-lead dating is one of the oldest radiometric dating methods. The assumption made is that all the lead nuclei found in the.

I will attempt to give you a few answers to your questions concerning radiometric dating. These books contain an exhaustive study of radiometric dates that do not fit the results evolutionists expect. There are several methods of radiometric dating. Carbon dating has limited value for evolution because its half-life is too short. The method assumes that the production of Carbon in the atmosphere from nitrogen is a process that is in equilibrium, and it is not.

The other methods deal with dating igneous rocks.