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Radioactive dating method

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Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbonin which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the Radioactive dating method of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay.

Together with stratigraphic principlesradiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale. By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change. Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts. 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 elementseach with its own atomic number Radioactive dating method, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.

Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopeswith each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable.

That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive Radioactive dating method and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide.

This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay emission of alpha particles and beta decay electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture. Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.

Radioactive dating

While the moment in Radioactive dating method 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-lifeusually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques. After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide or decay product.

In many cases, the daughter nuclide itself is radioactive, resulting in a decay chaineventually ending with the formation of a stable nonradioactive daughter nuclide; each step in such a Radioactive dating method is characterized by a distinct half-life.

In these cases, usually the half-life of interest in radiometric dating is the longest one in the chain, which is the rate-limiting factor in the ultimate transformation of the radioactive nuclide into its stable daughter. Isotopic systems that have been exploited for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from only about 10 years e. For most radioactive nuclides, the half-life depends solely on nuclear properties and is essentially a constant.

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