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Posted by / 08-Jul-2017 16:10

Potassium dating accuracy

Radioactive elements "decay" (that is, change into other elements) by "half lives." If a half life is equal to one year, then one half of the radioactive element will have decayed in the first year after the mineral was formed; one half of the remainder will decay in the next year (leaving one-fourth remaining), and so forth.The formula for the fraction remaining is one-half raised to the power given by the number of years divided by the half-life (in other words raised to a power equal to the number of half-lives).(Note that this does not mean that the ratios are the same everywhere on earth.It merely means that the ratios are the same in the particular magma from which the test sample was later taken.) As strontium-87 forms, its ratio to strontium-86 will increase.The sum of protons plus neutrons is the mass number.We designate a specific group of atoms by using the term "nuclide." A nuclide refers to a group of atoms with specified atomic number and mass number.(Do not confuse with the highly radioactive isotope, strontium-90.) Strontium occurs naturally as a mixture of several nuclides, including the stable isotope strontium-86.

Because argon is an inert gas, it is not possible that it might have been in the mineral when it was first formed from molten magma.

Rubidium-Strontium dating: The nuclide rubidium-87 decays, with a half life of 48.8 billion years, to strontium-87.

Strontium-87 is a stable element; it does not undergo further radioactive decay.

The corresponding half lives for each plotted point are marked on the line and identified.

It can be readily seen from the plots that when this procedure is followed with different amounts of Rb87 in different minerals, if the plotted half life points are connected, a straight line going through the origin is produced. The steeper the slope of the isochron, the more half lives it represents.

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The decrease in the amount of potassium required to form the original mineral has consistently confirmed the age as determined by the amount of argon formed.

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