Radiometric dating is based on

13-Dec-2014 09:21 by 2 Comments

Radiometric dating is based on

For example, the element Uranium exists as one of several isotopes, some of which are unstable.When an unstable Uranium (U) isotope decays, it turns into an isotope of the element Lead (Pb).

From careful physics and chemistry experiments, we know that parents turn into daughters at a very consistent, predictable rate.

For an example of how geologists use radiometric dating, read on: A geologist can pick up a rock from a mountainside somewhere, and bring it back to the lab, and separate out the individual minerals that compose the rock.

They can then look at a single mineral, and using an instrument called a mass spectrometer, they can measure the amount of parent and the amount of daughter in that mineral.

The ratio of the parent to daughter then can be used to back-calculate the age of that rock. The reason we know that radiometric dating works so well is because we can use several different isotope systems (for example, Uranium-Lead, Lutetium-Halfnium, Potassium-Argon) on the same rock, and they all come up with the same age.

This is an enormous branch of geochemistry called Geochronology.

It is an accurate way to date specific geologic events.

There are many radiometric clocks and when applied to appropriate materials, the dating can be very accurate.

As one example, the first minerals to crystallize (condense) from the hot cloud of gasses that surrounded the Sun as it first became a star have been dated to 4568 plus or minus 2 million years....!! Other events on earth can be dated equally well given the right minerals.

For example, a problem I have worked on involving the eruption of a volcano at what is now Naples, Italy, occurred 38500 years ago with a plus or minus of 300 years.

So, when the materials are appropriate and one carefully avoids contamination and re setting radiometric clocks can be VERY ACCURATE.

Answer 2: Yes, radiometric dating is a very accurate way to date the Earth.

We know it is accurate because radiometric dating is based on the radioactive decay of unstable isotopes.

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