# What is radioactive dating of fossils and what isotopes are used

Do you believe radiometric dating is an accurate way to date the earth? Could you also please explain further what radiometric dating is and the process to use it?

It is an accurate way to date specific geologic events. This is an enormous branch of geochemistry called Geochronology. 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 plus or minus 2 million years!!

That is pretty accurate!!!

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 years ago with a plus or minus of years. 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.

## Radioactive isotopes used for dating fossils - what is radioactive dating of fossils and what isotopes are used

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.

We call the original, unstable isotope Uranium the "parent", and the product of decay Lead the "daughter". 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.

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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 https://dating7ek.info/17menu/speed-dating-suffolk-uk-2335.php 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 gives geologists great confidence that the method correctly determines when that rock formed. Hope that helps, and please ask if you'd like more details!

I think that I will start by answering the second part of your question, just because I think that will make the answer to the first question clearer. Radiometric dating is the use of radioactive and radiogenic those formed from the decay of radioactive parents isotopes isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei to determine the age of something.

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It is commonly used in earth science to determine the age of rock formations or features or to figure out how fast geologic processes take place for example, how fast marine terraces on Santa Cruz island are being uplifted.

Radiometric dating relies on the principle of radioactive decay. All radioactive isotopes have a characteristic half-life the amount of time that it takes for one half of the original number of atoms of that isotope to decay.

### How Does Radiocarbon Dating Work? - Instant Egghead #28

By measuring the parent isotope radioactive and the daughter isotope radiogenic in a system for example, a rockhere can tell how long the system has been closed in our example, when the rock formed. The process of radiogenic dating is usually done using some sort of mass spectrometer. A mass spectrometer is an instrument that separates atoms based on their mass.

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Because geochronologists want to measure isotopes with different check this out, a mass spectrometer works really well for dating things.

I do think that radiometric dating is an accurate way to date the earth, although I am a geochronologist so I have my biases. Most estimates of the age of the earth come from dating meteorites that have fallen to Earth because we think that they formed in our solar nebula very close to the time that the earth formed. The fact that the age we calculate is reproducible for these different systems is significant.

We have also obtained a very similar age by measuring Pb isotopes in materials from earth. I should mention that https://dating7ek.info/15menu/quotes-about-not-being-interested-in-dating-2200.php decay constants basically a value that indicates how fast a certain radioactive isotope will decay for some of these isotope systems were calculated by assuming that the age of the earth is 4.

The decay constants for most of these systems have been confirmed in other ways, adding strength to our argument for the age of the earth. Radiometric dating depends on the chemistry and ratios of different elements.

Take, for example, zircon, which is a mineral; its chemical.

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