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The isotopes are then measured within the same machine by an attached mass spectrometer (an example of this is SIMS analysis).This is a common dating method mainly used by archaeologists, as it can only date geologically recent organic materials, usually charcoal, but also bone and antlers.This decay process leads to a more balanced nucleus and when the number of protons and neutrons balance, the atom becomes stable.This radioactivity can be used for dating, since a radioactive 'parent' element decays into a stable 'daughter' element at a constant rate.This technique has become more widely used since the late 1950s.Its great advantage is that most rocks contain potassium, usually locked up in feldspars, clays and amphiboles.
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.
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.
All living organisms take up carbon from their environment including a small proportion of the radioactive isotope 14C (formed from nitrogen-14 as a result of cosmic ray bombardment).
The amount of carbon isotopes within living organisms reaches an equilibrium value, on death no more is taken up, and the 14C present starts to decay at a known rate.