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Rock dating techniques

This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including radioactive decay, either by emission of particles (usually electrons (beta decay), positrons or alpha particles) or by spontaneous fission, and electron capture.While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is unpredictable, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life, usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques.The red-blue bars represent 40K and the green-yellow bars represent 40Ar.[SE] In order to use the K-Ar dating technique, we need to have an igneous or metamorphic rock that includes a potassium-bearing mineral.

Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating.Over time, the Ar remain embedded within the crystal, unless the rock is subjected to high temperatures after it forms.The sample must be analyzed using a very sensitive mass-spectrometer, which can detect the differences between the masses of atoms, and can therefore distinguish between Ar in the case of the K-Ar method).C) can be applied to many geological materials, including sediments and sedimentary rocks, but the materials in question must be younger than 60 ka.Fragments of wood incorporated into young sediments are good candidates for carbon dating, and this technique has been used widely in studies involving late Pleistocene glaciers and glacial sediments. Radiocarbon dating can be used on sediments or sedimentary rocks that contain carbon, but it cannot be used on materials older than about 60 ka.K-Ar is just one of many isotope-pairs that are useful for dating geological materials.If we dated a number of individual grains in the sedimentary rock, we would likely get a range of different dates, all older than the age of the rock.It might be possible to date some chemical sedimentary rocks isotopically, but there are no useful isotopes that can be used on old chemical sedimentary rocks.Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.

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