Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, usually based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates.
The use of radiometric dating was first published in 1907 by Bertram Boltwood and is now the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
The radioactive parent elements used to date rocks and minerals are: Radiometric dating using the naturally-occurring radioactive elements is simple in concept even though technically complex.
If we know the number of radioactive parent atoms present when a rock formed and the number present now, we can calculate the age of the rock using the decay constant.
The number of parent atoms originally present is simply the number present now plus the number of daughter atoms formed by the decay, both of which are quantities that can be measured.
Samples for dating are selected carefully to avoid those that are altered, contaminated, or disturbed by later heating or chemical events.
For example, with the uranium/lead method scientists have attempted to estimate what the original ratio (of uranium-238 to lead-206) was when the Earth formed.
To do this they have selected a certain meteorite, which contained various types of lead (including lead 204, 206, 207 and 208) but no uranium, and they have assumed that this ratio is equivalent to the earth's original lead ratio.
These were then eroded and Sedimentary Rocks B were deposited.
As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.
The probability of a parent atom decaying in a fixed period of time is always the same for all atoms of that type regardless of temperature, pressure, or chemical conditions. The time required for one-half of any original number of parent atoms to decay is the half-life, which is related to the decay constant by a simple mathematical formula.
Specifically, personnel at Geochron Laboratories of Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, performed the K-Ar dating for Austin et al. However, when they did, their website clearly stated in a footnote that their equipment could not accurately date rocks that are younger than about 2 million years old ("We cannot analyze samples expected to be younger than 2 M.
Y."; also see discussions by With less advanced equipment, 'memory effects' can be a problem with very young samples (Dalrymple, 1969, p. That is, very tiny amounts of argon contaminants from previous analyses may remain within the equipment, which precludes accurate dates for very young samples.