Forms of radiometric dating


Since we can only measure as far back in time as we had solid rock on this planet, we are limited in how we can measure the real age of the earth. Due to the forces of plate tectonics , our planet is also a very dynamic one; new mountains forming, old ones wearing down, volcanoes melting and reshaping new crust. The continual changing and reshaping of the earth's surface that involves the melting down and reconstructing of old rock has pretty much eliminated most of the original rocks that came with earth when it was newly formed. So the age is a theoretical age.

The methods work because radioactive elements are unstable, and they are always trying to move to a more stable state. So, they do this by giving off radiation. This process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation is called radioactive decay . The thing that makes this decay process so valuable for determining the age of an object is that each radioactive isotope decays at its own fixed rate, which is expressed in terms of its half-life. So, if you know the radioactive isotope found in a substance and the isotope's half-life, you can calculate the age of the substance.

In historical geology , the primary methods of absolute dating involve using the radioactive decay of elements trapped in rocks or minerals, including isotope systems from very young (radiocarbon dating with 14
C ) to systems such as uranium–lead dating that allow acquisition of absolute ages for some of the oldest rocks on earth.


Forms of radiometric dating

Forms of radiometric dating



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