How is radioactive dating performed
The dating method is usually performed on the mineral zircon.The mineral incorporates uranium and thorium atoms into its crystal structure, but strongly rejects lead.Try It risk-free Ever wonder how scientists concluded the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years old or how geologists determined the ages of caverns, rocks, volcanoes, the Himalayas, or even the age of Pompeii bread?
Uranium-lead dating techniques have also been applied to other minerals such as calcite/aragonite and other carbonate minerals.
Fission tracks and micro-cracks within the crystal will further extend this radiation damage network.
These fission tracks inevitably act as conduits deep within the crystal, thereby providing a method of transport to facilitate the leaching of lead isotopes from the zircon crystal.
Finally, ages can also be determined from the U–Pb system by analysis of Pb isotope ratios alone. Clair Cameron Patterson, an American geochemist who pioneered studies of uranium–lead radiometric dating methods, is famous for having used it to obtain one of the earliest estimates of the age of the Earth.
Although zircon (Zr Si O) is most commonly used, other minerals such as monazite (see: monazite geochronology), titanite, and baddeleyite can also be used.
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Loss (leakage) of lead from the sample will result in a discrepancy in the ages determined by each decay scheme.