Radiometric dating graphs

The method works best if neither the parent nuclide nor the daughter product enters or leaves the material after its formation. Anything which changes the relative amounts of the two isotopes original and daughter must be noted, and avoided if possible.


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Contamination from outside, or the loss of isotopes at any time from the rock's original formation, would change the result. It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.

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Measurements should be taken on samples from different parts of the rock body. This helps to counter the effects of heating and squeezing, which a rock may experience in its long history.

Learning how to constuct a graph of a decaying isotope and using it in radiometric dating

Different dating methods may be needed to confirm the age of a sample. For example, a study of the Amitsoq gneisses from western Greenland used five different radiometric dating methods to examine twelve samples and got agreement to within 30 million years on an age of 3,my. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Swedish National Heritage Board. Retrieved 9 March Compendium of chemical terminology, internet edition. Radiometric dating and the geological time scale: Radiometric dating and the geological time scale. N P is the number of parent atoms. N D is the number of daughter atoms. Using the graph, determine the number of half-lives elapsed for each sample. If the half-life is 5, years, determine the age of the sample. Mathematical calculation of radiometric dating involves the use of a simple equation. The age of a mineral is determined from the number of parent and daughter isotopes it contains.

This particular form isotope of lead is called Pb U is the parent isotope of Pb, which is the daughter isotope. Many rocks contain small amounts of unstable isotopes and the daughter isotopes into which they decay. Where the amounts of parent and daughter isotopes can be accurately measured, the ratio can be used to determine how old the rock is, as shown in the following activities.

That chance of decay is very small, but it is always present and it never changes. In other words, the nuclei do not "wear out" or get "tired". If the nucleus has not yet decayed, there is always that same, slight chance that it will change in the near future.

Learning Goals

Atomic nuclei are held together by an attraction between the large nuclear particles protons and neutrons that is known as the "strong nuclear force", which must exceed the electrostatic repulsion between the protons within the nucleus. In general, with the exception of the single proton that constitutes the nucleus of the most abundant isotope of hydrogen, the number of neutrons must at least equal the number of protons in an atomic nucleus, because electrostatic repulsion prohibits denser packing of protons.

But if there are too many neutrons, the nucleus is potentially unstable and decay may be triggered. This happens at any time when addition of the fleeting "weak nuclear force" to the ever-present electrostatic repulsion exceeds the binding energy required to hold the nucleus together.

Radiometric dating

In other words, during million years, half the U atoms that existed at the beginning of that time will decay to Pb This is known as the half life of U- Many elements have some isotopes that are unstable, essentially because they have too many neutrons to be balanced by the number of protons in the nucleus. Each of these unstable isotopes has its own characteristic half life. Some half lives are several billion years long, and others are as short as a ten-thousandth of a second.

On a piece of notebook paper, each piece should be placed with the printed M facing down.

Radiometric Dating

This represents the parent isotope. The candy should be poured into a container large enough for them to bounce around freely, it should be shaken thoroughly, then poured back onto the paper so that it is spread out instead of making a pile. This first time of shaking represents one half life, and all those pieces of candy that have the printed M facing up represent a change to the daughter isotope. Then, count the number of pieces of candy left with the M facing down.

These are the parent isotope that did not change during the first half life. The teacher should have each team report how many pieces of parent isotope remain, and the first row of the decay table Figure 2 should be filled in and the average number calculated. The same procedure of shaking, counting the "survivors", and filling in the next row on the decay table should be done seven or eight more times. Each time represents a half life.


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Each team should plot on a graph Figure 3 the number of pieces of candy remaining after each of their "shakes" and connect each successive point on the graph with a light line. AND, on the same graph, each group should plot points where, after each "shake" the starting number is divided by exactly two and connect these points by a differently colored line. After the graphs are plotted, the teacher should guide the class into thinking about: Is it the single group's results, or is it the line based on the class average?

U is found in most igneous rocks.