21.3 absolute age dating of rocks

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Following the somewhat serendipitous discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel, many prominent scientists began to investigate this new, intriguing phenomenon. During the beginning of the twentieth century, many radioactive substances were discovered, the properties of radiation were investigated and quantified, and a solid understanding of radiation and nuclear decay was developed. The spontaneous change of an unstable nuclide into another is radioactive decay. The unstable nuclide is called the parent nuclide ; the nuclide that results from the decay is known as the daughter nuclide. The daughter nuclide may be stable, or it may decay itself. The radiation produced during radioactive decay is such that the daughter nuclide lies closer to the band of stability than the parent nuclide, so the location of a nuclide relative to the band of stability can serve as a guide to the kind of decay it will undergo Figure

1. Relative age dating

Relative Ages of Rocks | Earth Science

Absolute age dating — 3. Geological time scale — 4. Geological maps. It may surprise you to learn that geologists were able to determine much of the history of the Earth and its life without knowing anything about the actual ages of the rocks that they studied.

Absolute dating rocks

Most absolute age determinations in geology rely on radiometric methods. The earth is billions of years old. The main condition for the method is that the production rate of isotopes stays the same through ages, i. The production of isotopes from chemical elements is known as decay rate and it is considered a constant.
Geologists use radiometric dating to estimate how long ago rocks formed, and to infer the ages of fossils contained within those rocks. Radioactive elements decay The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements. Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms.
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