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Posted by: Goltijinn Posted on: 28.05.2020

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All absolute isotopic ages are based on radioactive decay , a process whereby a specific atom or isotope is converted into another specific atom or isotope at a constant and known rate. Most elements exist in different atomic forms that are identical in their chemical properties but differ in the number of neutral particles-i. For a single element, these atoms are called isotopes. Because isotopes differ in mass , their relative abundance can be determined if the masses are separated in a mass spectrometer see below Use of mass spectrometers. Radioactive decay can be observed in the laboratory by either of two means: 1 a radiation counter e.

Unlike ages derived from fossils, which occur only in sedimentary rocks, absolute ages are obtained from minerals that grow as liquid rock bodies cool at or below the surface.

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When rocks are subjected to high temperatures and pressures in mountain roots formed where continents collide, certain datable minerals grow and even regrow to record the timing of such geologic events. When these regions are later exposed in uptilted portions of ancient continents, a history of terrestrial rock-forming events can be deduced. Episodes of global volcanic activityrifting of continents, folding, and metamorphism are defined by absolute ages.

The results suggest that the present-day global tectonic scheme was operative in the distant past as well. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.

Isotopic dating synonyms, Isotopic dating pronunciation, Isotopic dating translation, English dictionary definition of Isotopic dating. n. A method for determining the age of an object based on the concentration of a particular radioactive isotope contained within it and the half-life of. Radioactive dating is a method of dating rocks and minerals using radioactive isotopes. This method is useful for igneous and metamorphic rocks, which cannot be dated by the stratigraphic correlation method used for sedimentary rocks. Absolute dating methods determine how much time has passed since rocks formed by measuring the radioactive decay of isotopes or the effects of radiation on the crystal structure of minerals.

Edwin A. See Article History. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today. All absolute isotopic ages are based on radioactive decaya process whereby a specific atom or isotope is converted into another specific atom or isotope at a constant and known rate.

Most elements exist in different atomic forms that are identical in their chemical properties but differ in the number of neutral particles-i. For a single element, these atoms are called isotopes. Because isotopes differ in masstheir relative abundance can be determined if the masses are separated in a mass spectrometer see below Use of mass spectrometers.

Radioactive decay can be observed in the laboratory by either of two means: 1 a radiation counter e. The particles given off during the decay process are part of a profound fundamental change in the nucleus.

To compensate for the loss of mass and energythe radioactive atom undergoes internal transformation and in most cases simply becomes an atom of a different chemical element.

In terms of the numbers of atoms present, it is as if apples changed spontaneously into oranges at a fixed and known rate. In this analogythe apples would represent radioactive, or parent, atoms, while the oranges would represent the atoms formed, the so-called daughters. Pursuing this analogy further, one would expect that a new basket of apples would have no oranges but that an older one would have many. In fact, one would expect that the ratio of oranges to apples would change in a very specific way over the time elapsed, since the process continues until all the apples are converted.

In geochronology the situation is identical. A particular rock or mineral that contains a radioactive isotope or radioisotope is analyzed to determine the number of parent and daughter isotopes present, whereby the time since that mineral or rock formed is calculated.

Of course, one must select geologic materials that contain elements with long half-lives -i. The age calculated is only as good as the existing knowledge of the decay rate and is valid only if this rate is constant over the time that elapsed. Fortunately for geochronology, the study of radioactivity has been the subject of extensive theoretical and laboratory investigation by physicists for almost a century.

The results show that there is no known process that can alter the rate of radioactive decay. By way of explanation it can be noted that since the cause of the process lies deep within the atomic nucleus, external forces such as extreme heat and pressure have no effect. The same is true regarding gravitational, magneticand electric fieldsas well as the chemical state in which the atom resides.

Mar 13,   The work of geologists is to tell the true story of Earth's history-more precisely, a story of Earth's history that is ever truer. A hundred years ago, we had little idea of the story's length-we had no good yardstick for time. Today, with the help of isotopic dating methods, we can determine the ages of rocks nearly as well as we map the rocks themselves. For half of the radioisotopes of a certain kind to decay into its more stable isotope, the amount of time required is called the . Radiocarbon dating is typically used to date more recent objects like , cloth, wood, and plant fibers. rocks cannot be accurately dated using isotopic dating because this rock type is formed through the sedimentation of different rocks and mineral. Dating, in geology, determining a chronology or calendar of events in the history of Earth, using to a large degree the evidence of organic evolution in the sedimentary rocks accumulated through geologic time in marine and continental ojasjobz.com date past events, processes, formations, and fossil organisms, geologists employ a variety of techniques.

In short, the process of radioactive decay is immutable under all known conditions. Although it is impossible to predict when a particular atom will change, given a sufficient number of atoms, the rate of their decay is found to be constant. The situation is analogous to the death rate among human populations insured by an insurance company. Even though it is impossible to predict when a given policyholder will die, the company can count on paying off a certain number of beneficiaries every month.

The recognition that the rate of decay of any radioactive parent atom is proportional to the number of atoms N of the parent remaining at any time gives rise to the following expression:.

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Crystalline solids tend to be denser than liquids from which they came. But the degree to which they are incorporated in other minerals with high melting points might have a greater influence, since the concentrations of uranium and thorium are so low. Now another issue is simply the atomic weight of uranium and thorium, which is high.

Any compound containing them is also likely to be heavy and sink to the bottom relative to others, even in a liquid form. If there is significant convection in the magma, this would be minimized, however. At any rate, there will be some effects of this nature that will produce some kinds of changes in concentration of uranium and thorium relative to lead from the top to the bottom of a magma chamber.

Some of the patterns that are produced may appear to give valid radiometric dates. Others may not. The latter may be explained away due to various mechanisms.

Let us consider processes that could cause uranium and thorium to be incorporated into minerals with a high melting point. I read that zircons absorb uranium, but not much lead.

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Thus they are used for U-Pb dating. But many minerals take in a lot of uranium. It is also known that uranium is highly reactive.

Radiometric or Absolute Rock Dating

To me this suggests that it is eager to give up its 2 outer electrons. This would tend to produce compounds with a high dipole moment, with a positive charge on uranium and a negative charge on the other elements.

This would in turn tend to produce a high melting point, since the atoms would attract one another electrostatically.

I'm guessing a little bit here. There are a number of uranium compounds with different melting points, and in general it seems that the ones with the highest melting points are more stable.

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I would suppose that in magma, due to reactions, most of the uranium would end up in the most stable compounds with the highest melting points. These would also tend to have high dipole moments.

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Now, this would also help the uranium to be incorporated into other minerals. The electric charge distribution would create an attraction between the uranium compound and a crystallizing mineral, enabling uranium to be incorporated.

But this would be less so for lead, which reacts less strongly, and probably is not incorporated so easily into minerals. So in the minerals crystallizing at the top of the magma, uranium would be taken in more than lead. These minerals would then fall to the bottom of the magma chamber and thus uranium at the top would be depleted. It doesn't matter if these minerals are relatively lighter than others. The point is that they are heavier than the magma. Two kinds of magma and implications for radiometric dating It turns out that magma has two sources, ocean plates and material from the continents crustal rock.

This fact has profound implications for radiometric dating. Mantle material is very low in uranium and thorium, having only 0. The source of magma for volcanic activity is subducted oceanic plates. Subduction means that these plates are pushed under the continents by motions of the earth's crust. While oceanic plates are basaltic mafic originating from the mid-oceanic ridges due to partial melting of mantle rock, the material that is magma is a combination of oceanic plate material and continental sediments.

Subducted oceanic plates begin to melt when they reach depths of about kilometers See Tarbuck, The Earth, p. In other words, mantle is not the direct source of magma. Further, Faure explains that uraninite UO sub2 is a component of igneous rocks Faure, p.

Uraninite is also known as pitchblende. According to plate tectonic theory, continental crust overrides oceanic crust when these plates collide because the continental crust is less dense than the ocean floor. As the ocean floor sinks, it encounters increasing pressures and temperatures within the crust.

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Ultimately, the pressures and temperatures are so high that the rocks in the subducted oceanic crust melt. Once the rocks melt, a plume of molten material begins to rise in the crust. As the plume rises it melts and incorporates other crustal rocks. This rising body of magma is an open system with respect to the surrounding crustal rocks. Volatiles e. It is possible that these physical processes have an impact on the determined radiometric age of the rock as it cools and crystallizes.

Time is not a direct measurement. The actual data are the ratios of parent and daughter isotopes present in the sample. Time is one of the values that can be determined from the slope of the line representing the distribution of the isotopes.

Isotope distributions are determined by the chemical and physical factors governing a given magma chamber. Rhyolites in Yellowstone N. Most genetic models for uranium deposits in sandstones in the U. Most of the uranium deposits in Wyoming are formed from uraniferous groundwaters derived from Precambrian granitic terranes. Uranium in the major uranium deposits in the San Juan basin of New Mexico is believed to have been derived from silicic volcanic ash from Jurassic island arcs at the edge of the continent.

From the above sources, we see that another factor influencing radiometric dates is the proportion of the magma that comes from subducted oceanic plates and the proportion that comes from crustal rock. Initially, we would expect most of it to come from subducted oceanic plates, which are uranium and thorium poor and maybe lead rich.

Later, more of the crustal rock would be incorporated by melting into the magma, and thus the magma would be richer in uranium and thorium and poorer in lead. So this factor would also make the age appear to become younger with time. There are two kinds of magma, and the crustal material which is enriched in uranium also tends to be lighter.

For our topic on radiometric dating and fractional crystallization, there is nothing that would prevent uranium and thorium ores from crystallizing within the upper, lighter portion of the magma chamber and descending to the lower boundaries of the sialic portion. The same kind of fractional crystallization would be true of non-granitic melts. I think we can build a strong case for fictitious ages in magmatic rocks as a result of fractional cystallization and geochemical processes.

As we have seen, we cannot ignore geochemical effects while we consider geophysical effects. Sialic granitic and mafic basaltic magma are separated from each other, with uranium and thorium chemically predestined to reside mainly in sialic magma and less in mafic rock. Here is yet another mechanism that can cause trouble for radiometric dating: As lava rises through the crust, it will heat up surrounding rock.

Lead has a low melting point, so it will melt early and enter the magma.

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This will cause an apparent large age. Uranium has a much higher melting point. It will enter later, probably due to melting of materials in which it is embedded. This will tend to lower the ages.

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Mechanisms that can create isochrons giving meaningless ages: Geologists attempt to estimate the initial concentration of daughter product by a clever device called an isochron.

Let me make some general comments about isochrons. The idea of isochrons is that one has a parent element, P, a daughter element, D, and another isotope, N, of the daughter that is not generated by decay.

One would assume that initially, the concentration of N and D in different locations are proportional, since their chemical properties are very similar. Note that this assumption implies a thorough mixing and melting of the magma, which would also mix in the parent substances as well. Then we require some process to preferentially concentrate the parent substances in certain places.

Radioactive decay would generate a concentration of D proportional to P. By taking enough measurements of the concentrations of P, D, and N, we can solve for c1 and c2, and from c1 we can determine the radiometric age of the sample.

Otherwise, the system is degenerate. Thus we need to have an uneven distribution of D relative to N at the start. If these ratios are observed to obey such a linear relationship in a series of rocks, then an age can be computed from them.

The bigger c1 is, the older the rock is. That is, the more daughter product relative to parent product, the greater the age.

Thus we have the same general situation as with simiple parent-to-daughter computations, more daughter product implies an older age. This is a very clever idea. However, there are some problems with it. First, in order to have a meaningful isochron, it is necessary to have an unusual chain of events. Initially, one has to have a uniform ratio of lead isotopes in the magma.

Usually the concentration of uranium and thorium varies in different places in rock. This will, over the assumed millions of years, produce uneven concentrations of lead isotopes. To even this out, one has to have a thorough mixing of the magma. Even this is problematical, unless the magma is very hot, and no external material enters. Now, after the magma is thoroughly mixed, the uranium and thorium will also be thoroughly mixed. What has to happen next to get an isochron is that the uranium or thorium has to concentrate relative to the lead isotopes, more in some places than others.

For U Pb dating, P would be U and D would be Pb and N would be Pb Suppose this rock is obtained by mixing of two other rocks, A and B. Suppose that A has a (for the sake of argument, uniform) concentration of P1 of parent, D1 of daughter, and N1 of . Sep 01,   Isotopic dating of rocks, or the minerals in them, is based on the fact that we know the decay rates of certain unstable isotopes of elements and that these rates have been constant over geological time. It is also based on the premise that when the atoms of an element decay within a mineral or a rock, they stay there and don't escape to the Author: Steven Earle. Dating - Dating - Principles of isotopic dating: All absolute isotopic ages are based on radioactive decay, a process whereby a specific atom or isotope is converted into another specific atom or isotope at a constant and known rate. Most elements exist in different atomic forms that are identical in their chemical properties but differ in the number of neutral particles-i.e., neutrons-in.

So this implies some kind of chemical fractionation. Then the system has to remain closed for a long time. This chemical fractionation will most likely arise by some minerals incorporating more or less uranium or thorium relative to lead.

Anyway, to me it seems unlikely that this chain of events would occur. Another problem with isochrons is that they can occur by mixing and other processes that result in isochrons yielding meaningless ages. Sometimes, according to Faure, what seems to be an isochron is actually a mixing line, a leftover from differentiation in the magma. Fractionation followed by mixing can create isochrons giving too old ages, without any fractionation of daughter isotopes taking place. To get an isochron with a false age, all you need is 1 too much daughter element, due to some kind of fractionation and 2 mixing of this with something else that fractionated differently.

Since fractionation and mixing are so common, we should expect to find isochrons often. How they correlate with the expected ages of their geologic period is an interesting question. There are at least some outstanding anomalies. Faure states that chemical fractionation produces "fictitious isochrons whose slopes have no time significance. As an example, he uses Pliocene to Recent lava flows and from lava flows in historical times to illustrate the problem.

He says, these flows should have slopes approaching zero less than 1 million yearsbut they instead appear to be much older million years. Steve Austin has found lava rocks on the Uinkeret Plateau at Grand Canyon with fictitious isochrons dating at 1. Then a mixing of A and B will have the same fixed concentration of N everywhere, but the amount of D will be proportional to the amount of P. This produces an isochron yielding the same age as sample A. This is a reasonable scenario, since N is a non-radiogenic isotope not produced by decay such as lea and it can be assumed to have similar concentrations in many magmas.

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Magma from the ocean floor has little U and little U and probably little lead byproducts lead and lead Magma from melted continental material probably has more of both U and U and lead and lead Thus we can get an isochron by mixing, that has the age of the younger-looking continental crust. The age will not even depend on how much crust is incorporated, as long as it is non-zero. However, if the crust is enriched in lead or impoverished in uranium before the mixing, then the age of the isochron will be increased.

If the reverse happens before mixing, the age of the isochron will be decreased. Any process that enriches or impoverishes part of the magma in lead or uranium before such a mixing will have a similar effect. So all of the scenarios given before can also yield spurious isochrons.

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I hope that this discussion will dispel the idea that there is something magical about isochrons that prevents spurious dates from being obtained by enrichment or depletion of parent or daughter elements as one would expect by common sense reasoning.

So all the mechanisms mentioned earlier are capable of producing isochrons with ages that are too old, or that decrease rapidly with time. The conclusion is the same, radiometric dating is in trouble.

I now describe this mixing in more detail. Suppose P p is the concentration of parent at a point p in a rock.

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The point p specifies x,y, and z co-ordinates. Let D p be the concentration of daughter at the point p.

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Let N p be the concentration of some non-radiogenic not generated by radioactive decay isotope of D at point p. Suppose this rock is obtained by mixing of two other rocks, A and B. Suppose that A has a for the sake of argument, uniform concentration of P1 of parent, D1 of daughter, and N1 of non-radiogenic isotope of the daughter.

Thus P1, D1, and N1 are numbers between 0 and 1 whose sum adds to less than 1. Suppose B has concentrations P2, D2, and N2. Let r p be the fraction of A at any given point p in the mixture. So the usual methods for augmenting and depleting parent and daughter substances still work to influence the age of this isochron.

More daughter product means an older age, and less daughter product relative to parent means a younger age. In fact, more is true. Any isochron whatever with a positive age and a constant concentration of N can be constructed by such a mixing. It is only necessary to choose r p and P1, N1, and N2 so as to make P p and D p agree with the observed values, and there is enough freedom to do this.

Anyway, to sum up, there are many processes that can produce a rock or magma A having a spurious parent-to-daughter ratio.

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Then from mixing, one can produce an isochron having a spurious age. This shows that computed radiometric ages, even isochrons, do not have any necessary relation to true geologic ages. Mixing can produce isochrons giving false ages. But anyway, let's suppose we only consider isochrons for which mixing cannot be detected. How do their ages agree with the assumed ages of their geologic periods?

As far as I know, it's anyone's guess, but I'd appreciate more information on this. I believe that the same considerations apply to concordia and discordia, but am not as familiar with them. It's interesting that isochrons depend on chemical fractionation for their validity.

They assume that initially the magma was well mixed to assure an even concentration of lead isotopes, but that uranium or thorium were unevenly distributed initially. So this assumes at the start that chemical fractionation is operating. But these same chemical fractionation processes call radiometric dating into question.

The relative concentrations of lead isotopes are measured in the vicinity of a rock. The amount of radiogenic lead is measured by seeing how the lead in the rock differs in isotope composition from the lead around the rock.

This is actually a good argument. But, is this test always done? How often is it done?



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