Radiometric dating using isotopes

Find additional lessons, activities, videos, and articles that focus on relative and absolute dating.Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!isotope is converted into another specific atom or isotope at a constant and known rate.

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For a single element, these atoms are called isotopes.This follows because, as each parent atom loses its identity with time, it reappears as a daughter atom. In short, one need only measure the ratio of the number of radioactive parent and daughter atoms present, and the time elapsed since the mineral or rock formed can be calculated, provided of course that the decay rate is known.Likewise, the conditions that must be met to make the calculated age precise and meaningful are in themselves simple:isochron methods that make use of the rubidium-strontium or samarium-neodymium decay schemes, a series of rocks or minerals are chosen that can be assumed to have the same age and identical abundances of their initial isotopic ratios.By dating these surrounding layers, they can figure out the youngest and oldest that the fossil might be; this is known as "bracketing" the age of the sedimentary layer in which the fossils occur.Teach your students about absolute dating: Determining age of rocks and fossils, a classroom activity for grades 9-12.

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