Radio isotope dating methods


06-Feb-2017 22:41

Carbon dating is the most famous form of “radiometric dating”.By measuring the trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 (so named because it has 6 protons and 8 neutrons) in a dead something and comparing it to the amount of regular carbon-12 (6 protons and 6 neutrons) you can figure out how long it’s been since that sample was alive.Since uranium-238 (the isotope comprising more than 99% of natural uranium) has a half-life of billions of years, it’s useful for figuring out the age of (among other things) zircons that crystallized billions of years ago. And, not for nothing, it’s also caused a thousandfold increase in lead contamination in the bodies (or bones at least) of everything that breathes and/or eats.If you’ve ever wondered why gasoline should be “unleaded”: that’s why.The Bartonian, Priabonian and Chattian Stages are not yet formally defined.After the global catastrophe and biotic crisis at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, stratigraphically important marine microfossils started new evolutionary trends, and on land the now flourishing mammals offer a potential for stratigraphic zonation.Geomorphology is concerned with the surface processes that create the landscapes of the world—namely, weathering and erosion.

Orbitally tuned cyclic sedimentation series, calibrated to the geomagnetic polarity and biostratigraphic scales, have considerably improved the resolution of the Paleogene time scale.Carbon-14 is continuously generated in the upper atmosphere when stray neutrons bombard atmospheric nitrogen (which is what most of the atmosphere is).The reason carbon dating works is that the fresh carbon-14 gets mixed in with the rest of the carbon in the atmosphere and, since it’s chemically identical to regular carbon, gets worked into whatever is presently absorbing atmospheric carbon.As water freezes and each molecule falls into place, atoms that don’t fit in the forming ice crystal are excluded. For example, zircon (a crystal) is perfectly happy to incorporate uranium, but excludes lead.

Impurities, such as dissolved air, are either forced out or concentrated in the last region to freeze. It so happens that uranium decays into lead with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.There are many different kinds of radiometric dating that are used to date things that are non-organic (which is part of how we determine the age of the Earth).



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