# Geochronology dating techniques

### Dating | geochronology | afrocolombianidad.info

As noted above, various dating methods are used in geochronology. Each method has a certain degree of uncertainty, but the. Dating - Principles of isotopic dating: All absolute isotopic ages are based on Fortunately for geochronology, the study of radioactivity has been the subject of Solution of this equation by techniques of the calculus yields one form of the. Pages in category "Geochronological dating methods". The following 17 pages are in this category, out of 17 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn .

Bring fact-checked results to the top of your browser search. Principles of isotopic dating All absolute isotopic ages are based on radioactive decaya process whereby a specific atom or isotope is converted into another specific atom or isotope at a constant and known rate. Most elements exist in different atomic forms that are identical in their chemical properties but differ in the number of neutral particles—i.

## Geochronology

For a single element, these atoms are called isotopes. Because isotopes differ in masstheir relative abundance can be determined if the masses are separated in a mass spectrometer see below Use of mass spectrometers. Radioactive decay can be observed in the laboratory by either of two means: The particles given off during the decay process are part of a profound fundamental change in the nucleus.

To compensate for the loss of mass and energythe radioactive atom undergoes internal transformation and in most cases simply becomes an atom of a different chemical element. In terms of the numbers of atoms present, it is as if apples changed spontaneously into oranges at a fixed and known rate.

In this analogythe apples would represent radioactive, or parent, atoms, while the oranges would represent the atoms formed, the so-called daughters. Pursuing this analogy further, one would expect that a new basket of apples would have no oranges but that an older one would have many. In fact, one would expect that the ratio of oranges to apples would change in a very specific way over the time elapsed, since the process continues until all the apples are converted.

In geochronology the situation is identical. A particular rock or mineral that contains a radioactive isotope or radioisotope is analyzed to determine the number of parent and daughter isotopes present, whereby the time since that mineral or rock formed is calculated.

Of course, one must select geologic materials that contain elements with long half-lives —i. The age calculated is only as good as the existing knowledge of the decay rate and is valid only if this rate is constant over the time that elapsed.

### Dating - Principles of isotopic dating | afrocolombianidad.info

Fortunately for geochronology, the study of radioactivity has been the subject of extensive theoretical and laboratory investigation by physicists for almost a century. The results show that there is no known process that can alter the rate of radioactive decay.

By way of explanation it can be noted that since the cause of the process lies deep within the atomic nucleus, external forces such as extreme heat and pressure have no effect. The same is true regarding gravitational, magneticand electric fieldsas well as the chemical state in which the atom resides. In short, the process of radioactive decay is immutable under all known conditions. Although it is impossible to predict when a particular atom will change, given a sufficient number of atoms, the rate of their decay is found to be constant.

The situation is analogous to the death rate among human populations insured by an insurance company. Even though it is impossible to predict when a given policyholder will die, the company can count on paying off a certain number of beneficiaries every month. The recognition that the rate of decay of any radioactive parent atom is proportional to the number of atoms N of the parent remaining at any time gives rise to the following expression: Converting this proportion to an equation incorporates the additional observation that different radioisotopes have different disintegration rates even when the same number of atoms are observed undergoing decay.

Two alterations are generally made to equation 4 in order to obtain the form most useful for radiometric dating. In the first place, since the unknown term in radiometric dating is obviously t, it is desirable to rearrange equation 4 so that it is explicitly solved for t.

Half-life is defined as the time period that must elapse in order to halve the initial number of radioactive atoms. The half-life and the decay constant are inversely proportional because rapidly decaying radioisotopes have a high decay constant but a short half-life. With t made explicit and half-life introduced, equation 4 is converted to the following form, in which the symbols have the same meaning: Alternatively, because the number of daughter atoms is directly observed rather than N, which is the initial number of parent atoms present, another formulation may be more convenient.

Since the initial number of parent atoms present at time zero N0 must be the sum of the parent atoms remaining N and the daughter atoms present D, one can write: Substituting this in equation 6 gives If one chooses to use P to designate the parent atom, the expression assumes its familiar form: This follows because, as each parent atom loses its identity with time, it reappears as a daughter atom.

Equation 8 documents the simplicity of direct isotopic dating. This technique measures the ratio of two lead isotopes lead and lead to the amount of uranium in a mineral or rock. Often applied to the trace mineral zircon in igneous rocks, this method is one of the two most commonly used along with argon-argon dating for geologic dating.

Uranium-lead dating is applied to samples older than about 1 million years.

## Category:Geochronological dating methods

This technique is used to date speleothems, coralscarbonates, and fossil bones. Its range is from a few years to aboutyears. Potassium-argon dating and argon-argon dating: These techniques date metamorphic, igneous and volcanic rocks. They are also used to date volcanic ash layers within or overlying paleoanthropologic sites. The younger limit of the argon-argon method is a few thousand years. Luminescence dating Luminescence dating techniques observe 'light' emitted from materials such as quartz, diamond, feldspar, and calcite.

Many types of luminescence techniques are utilized in geology, including optically stimulated luminescence OSLcathodoluminescence CLand thermoluminescence TL.

Thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence are used in archaeology to date "fired" objects such as pottery or cooking stones, and can be used to observe sand migration. Incremental dating Incremental dating techniques allow the construction of year-by-year annual chronologies, which can be fixed that is, linked to the present day and thus calendar or sidereal time or floating.