Radiometric dating geochronology

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Another way of expressing this is the half-life period (given the symbol T).The half-life is the time it takes for half of the parent atoms to decay.All living organisms take up carbon from their environment including a small proportion of the radioactive isotope 14C (formed from nitrogen-14 as a result of cosmic ray bombardment).The amount of carbon isotopes within living organisms reaches an equilibrium value, on death no more is taken up, and the 14C present starts to decay at a known rate.

This radioactivity can be used for dating, since a radioactive 'parent' element decays into a stable 'daughter' element at a constant rate.

The rate of decay (given the symbol λ) is the fraction of the 'parent' atoms that decay in unit time.

For geological purposes, this is taken as one year.

This technique is used on ferromagnesian (iron/magnesium-containing) minerals such as micas and amphiboles or on limestones which also contain abundant strontium.

However, both Rb and Sr easily follow fluids that move through rocks or escape during some types of metamorphism. The dual decay of potassium (K) to 40Ar (argon) and 40Ca (calcium) was worked out between 19.

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