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Radiometric dating - Wikipedia
Thank you for your feedback. Facts matter and Britannica Insights makes it easier to find them. Potassium clearly has 21 neutrons. And it's very, very, very, very scarce. It accounts for only 0. But this is also the isotope of potassium that's interesting to us from the point of view of dating old, old rock, and especially old volcanic rock. And as we'll see, when you can date old volcanic rock it allows you to date other types of rock or other types of fossils that might be sandwiched in between old volcanic rock.
And so what's really interesting about potassium here is that it has a half-life of 1. So the good thing about that, as opposed to something like carbon, it can be used to date really, really, really old things. So argon is right over here.
Potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating
It has 18 protons. So when you think about it decaying into argon, what you see is that it lost a proton, but it has the same mass number. So one of the protons must of somehow turned into a neutron. And it actually captures one of the inner electrons, and then it emits other things, and I won't go into all the quantum physics of it, but it turns into argon And you see calcium on the periodic table right over here has 20 protons. So this is a situation where one of the neutrons turns into a proton. This is a situation where one of the protons turns into a neutron.
And what's really interesting to us is this part right over here. Because what's cool about argon, and we study this a little bit in the chemistry playlist, it is a noble gas, it is unreactive. And so when it is embedded in something that's in a liquid state it'll kind of just bubble out.
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It's not bonded to anything, and so it'll just bubble out and just go out into the atmosphere. So what's interesting about this whole situation is you can imagine what happens during a volcanic eruption. Let me draw a volcano here. So let's say that this is our volcano.
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And it erupts at some time in the past. So it erupts, and you have all of this lava flowing.
That lava will contain some amount of potassium And actually, it'll already contain some amount of argon But what's neat about argon is that while it's lava, while it's in this liquid state-- so let's imagine this lava right over here. It's a bunch of stuff right over here. I'll do the potassium And let me do it in a color that I haven't used yet. I'll do the potassium in magenta.
It'll have some potassium in it. I'm maybe over doing it. It's a very scarce isotope. But it'll have some potassium in it. And it might already have some argon in it just like that. But argon is a noble gas. It's not going to bond anything. And while this lava is in a liquid state it's going to be able to bubble out.
By comparing this with modern levels of activity wood corrected for decay to AD and using the measured half-life it becomes possible to calculate a date for the death of the sample. As a result of atomic bomb usage, 14 C was added to the atmosphere artificially. This affects the 14 C ages of objects younger than Any material which is composed of carbon may be dated. Herein lies the true advantage of the radiocarbon method. Potassium-Argon K-Ar dating is the most widely applied technique of radiometric dating.
Potassium is a component in many common minerals and can be used to determine the ages of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The Potassium-Argon dating method is the measurement of the accumulation of Argon in a mineral. It is based on the occurrence of a small fixed amount of the radioisotope 40 K in natural potassium that decays to the stable Argon isotope 40 Ar with a half-life of about 1, million years. In contrast to a method such as Radiocarbon dating, which measures the disappearance of a substance, K-Ar dating measures the accumulation of Argon in a substance from the decomposition of potassium.
Argon, being an inert gas, usually does not leech out of a mineral and is easy to measure in small samples. This method dates the formation or time of crystallisation of the mineral that is being dated; it does not tell when the elements themselves were formed. It is best used with rocks that contain minerals that crystallised over a very short period, possibly at the same time the rock was formed.
This method should also be applied only to minerals that remained in a closed system with no loss or gain of the parent or daughter isotope. Uranium-Lead U-Pb dating is the most reliable method for dating Quaternary sedimentary carbonate and silica, and fossils particulary outside the range of radiocarbon. Quaternary geology provides a record of climate change and geologically recent changes in environment.
U-Pb geochronology of zircon , baddelyite , and monazite is used for determining the age of emplacement of igneous rocks of all compositions, ranging in age from Tertiary to Early Archean. U-Pb ages of metamorphic minerals, such as zircon or monazite are used to date thermal events, including terrestrial meteoritic impacts. U-Pb ages of zircon in sediments are used to determine the provenance of the sediments. The Fission track analysis is based on radiation damage tracks due to the spontaneous fission of U.
Fission-tracks are preserved in minerals that contain small amounts of uranium, such as apatite and zircon.