Half life dating rocks


These radioactive elements constitute independent clocks that allow geologists to determine the age of the rocks in which they occur.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.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.All rocks and minerals contain long-lived radioactive elements that were incorporated into Earth when the Solar System formed.

Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel.Other techniques include analyzing amino acids and measuring changes in an object's magnetic field.Scientists have also made improvements to the standard radiometric measurements.Each of them typically exists in igneous rock, or rock made from cooled magma.Fossils, however, form in sedimentary rock -- sediment quickly covers a dinosaur's body, and the sediment and the bones gradually turn into rock.Dinosaur bones, on the other hand, are millions of years old -- some fossils are billions of years old.

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