Radiological dating methods
A commonly used radiometric dating technique relies on the breakdown of potassium (Ar in an igneous rock can tell us the amount of time that has passed since the rock crystallized.If an igneous or other rock is metamorphosed, its radiometric clock is reset, and potassium-argon measurements can be used to tell the number of years that has passed since metamorphism.
Perhaps you have heard of Ice Man, a man living in the Alps who died and was entombed in glacial ice until recently when the ice moved and melted.Prior to 1905 the best and most accepted age of the Earth was that proposed by Lord Kelvin based on the amount of time necessary for the Earth to cool to its present temperature from a completely liquid state.Although we now recognize lots of problems with that calculation, the age of 25 my was accepted by most physicists, but considered too short by most geologists. Recognition that radioactive decay of atoms occurs in the Earth was important in two respects: Principles of Radiometric Dating Radioactive decay is described in terms of the probability that a constituent particle of the nucleus of an atom will escape through the potential (Energy) barrier which bonds them to the nucleus.Thus, if we start out with 1 gram of the parent isotope, after the passage of 1 half-life there will be 0.5 gram of the parent isotope left.After the passage of two half-lives only 0.25 gram will remain, and after 3 half lives only 0.125 will remain etc. Wiens has a Ph D in Physics, with a minor in Geology.
His Ph D thesis was on isotope ratios in meteorites, including surface exposure dating.
The energies involved are so large, and the nucleus is so small that physical conditions in the Earth (i.e. The rate of decay or rate of change of the number N of particles is proportional to the number present at any time, i.e.
The half-life is the amount of time it takes for one half of the initial amount of the parent, radioactive isotope, to decay to the daughter isotope.
Radioactive elements were incorporated into the Earth when the Solar System formed.
All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.
Carbon-14 is a method used for young (less than 50,000 year old) sedimentary rocks.