Understand how decay and half life work to enable radiometric dating. Play a game that tests your ability to match the percentage of the dating element that remains to the age of the object. There are two types of half-life problems we will perform.

## Radiometric dating - Wikipedia

One format involves calculating a mass amount of the original isotope. Using the equation below, we can determine how much of the original isotope remains after a certain interval of time. The half-life of this isotope is 10 days.

For example, carbon has a half-life of 5, years and is used to measure the age of organic material. The ratio of carbon to carbon in living things remains constant while the organism is alive because fresh carbon is entering the organism whenever it consumes nutrients. When the organism dies, this consumption stops, and no new carbon is added to the organism.

As time goes by, the ratio of carbon to carbon in the organism gradually declines, because carbon radioactively decays while carbon is stable. Analysis of this ratio allows archaeologists to estimate the age of organisms that were alive many thousands of years ago. Along with stable carbon, radioactive carbon is taken in by plants and animals, and remains at a constant level within them while they are alive. After death, the C decays and the C C ratio in the remains decreases.

Comparing this ratio to the C C ratio in living organisms allows us to determine how long ago the organism lived and died. C dating does have limitations. For example, a sample can be C dating if it is approximately to 50, years old. Before or after this range, there is too little of the isotope to be detected.

Substances must have obtained C from the atmosphere.

## Radiometric Dating: Methods, Uses & the Significance of Half-Life

For this reason, aquatic samples cannot be effectively C dated. Lastly, accuracy of C dating has been affected by atmosphere nuclear weapons testing. Fission bombs ignite to produce more C artificially.

Samples tested during and after this period must be checked against another method of dating isotopic or tree rings. To calculate the age of a substance using isotopic dating, use the equation below:. How long will it take for Uranium is not the only isotope that can be used to date rocks; we do see additional methods of radiometric dating based on the decay of different isotopes.

### Radiometric Dating

For example, with potassium-argon dating , we can tell the age of materials that contain potassium because we know that potassium decays into argon with a half-life of 1. With rubidium-strontium dating , we see that rubidium decays into strontium with a half-life of 50 billion years. By anyone's standards, 50 billion years is a long time. In fact, this form of dating has been used to date the age of rocks brought back to Earth from the moon.

## Radiometric dating

So, we see there are a number of different methods for dating rocks and other non-living things, but what if our sample is organic in nature? For example, how do we know that the Iceman, whose frozen body was chipped out of glacial ice in , is 5, years old? Well, we know this because samples of his bones and hair and even his grass boots and leather belongings were subjected to radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating , also known as carbon dating or simply carbon dating, is a method used to determine the age of organic material by measuring the radioactivity of its carbon content.

So, radiocarbon dating can be used to find the age of things that were once alive, like the Iceman. And this would also include things like trees and plants, which give us paper and cloth. So, radiocarbon dating is also useful for determining the age of relics, such the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.

With radiocarbon dating, the amount of the radioactive isotope carbon is measured. Compared to some of the other radioactive isotopes we have discussed, carbon's half-life of 5, years is considerably shorter, as it decays into nitrogen Carbon is continually being created in the atmosphere due to the action of cosmic rays on nitrogen in the air. Carbon combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide. Because plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, this isotope ends up inside the plant, and because animals eat plants, they get some as well.

When a plant or an animal dies, it stops taking in carbon The existing carbon within the organism starts to decay back into nitrogen, and this starts our clock for radiocarbon dating. A scientist can take a sample of an organic material when it is discovered and evaluate the proportion of carbon left in the relic to determine its age. Radiometric dating is a method used to date rocks and other objects based on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes. The decay rate is referring to radioactive decay , which is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation.

Each radioactive isotope decays at its own fixed rate, which is expressed in terms of its half-life or, in other words, the time required for a quantity to fall to half of its starting value. There are different methods of radiometric dating. Uranium-lead dating can be used to find the age of a uranium-containing mineral. Uranium decays to lead, and uranium decays to lead The two uranium isotopes decay at different rates, and this helps make uranium-lead dating one of the most reliable methods because it provides a built-in cross-check. Additional methods of radiometric dating, such as potassium-argon dating and rubidium-strontium dating , exist based on the decay of those isotopes.

Radiocarbon dating is a method used to determine the age of organic material by measuring the radioactivity of its carbon content. With radiocarbon dating, we see that carbon decays to nitrogen and has a half-life of 5, years. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.

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Find a degree that fits your goals. Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. Try it risk-free for 30 days. An error occurred trying to load this video. Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support. Register to view this lesson Are you a student or a teacher? I am a student I am a teacher. What teachers are saying about Study. Conditions of Fossil Preservation: Are you still watching? Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds.

Add to Add to Add to. So when you have the same element with varying number of neutrons, that's an isotope.