Concept of radiometric dating
Possible discussion questions: Bring in an hourglass; demonstrate that time can be measured with a physical process (sand falling).Use multiple hourglasses to illustrate precision in measurements – preparing for a discussion of the use of multiple radiometric systems. Show slides, step-by-step, of the process, from sample collection to mass spectrometry. To gain confidence in using geochronological dating tools to understand the history of the earth To apply the concept of time measurement across time scales. To learn how dates obtained from radioactive dating are verified 5.
It is based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates.Radiocarbon, or carbon 14, is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. Carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.It is rapidly oxidized in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the global carbon cycle.It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and it can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.The best-known radiometric dating techniques include radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating, and uranium-lead dating.
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Most people, even the experts in the field, forget the assumptions on which radiometric dating is based.