Radioactive dating techniques

Radioactive dating is a method of dating rocks and minerals using radioactive isotopes.

This method is useful for igneous and metamorphic rocks, which cannot be dated by the stratigraphic correlation method used for sedimentary rocks. Some do not change with time and form stable isotopes (i.e.

However, there is a limited range in Sm-Nd isotopes in many igneous rocks, although metamorphic rocks that contain the mineral garnet are useful as this mineral has a large range in Sm-Nd isotopes.

This technique also helps in determining the composition and evolution of the Earth's mantle and bodies in the universe.

This method faces problems because the cosmic ray flux has changed over time, but a calibration factor is applied to take this into account.This technique is used on ferromagnesian (iron/magnesium-containing) minerals such as micas and amphiboles or on limestones which also contain abundant strontium.However, both Rb and Sr easily follow fluids that move through rocks or escape during some types of metamorphism. The dual decay of potassium (K) to 40Ar (argon) and 40Ca (calcium) was worked out between 19.Radiocarbon dating is normally suitable for organic materials less than 50 000 years old because beyond that time the amount of 14C becomes too small to be accurately measured.This scheme was developed in 1937 but became more useful when mass spectrometers were improved in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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