Radionuclide dating


28-Aug-2020 01:40

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A process for determining the age of an object by measuring the amount of a given radioactive material it contains.If one knows how much of this radioactive material was present initially in the object (by determining how much of the material has decayed), and one knows the half-life of the material, one can deduce the age of the object.The procedures used to isolate and analyze the parent and daughter nuclides must be precise and accurate.This normally involves isotope-ratio mass spectrometry. The precision of a dating method depends in part on the half-life of the radioactive isotope involved.Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.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.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.

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In many cases, the daughter nuclide itself is radioactive, resulting in a decay chain, eventually ending with the formation of a stable (nonradioactive) daughter nuclide; each step in such a chain is characterized by a distinct half-life.

Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium–argon dating and uranium–lead dating.