Exercise 6 radioisotopic dating techniques

Carbon has two stable, non-radioactive isotopes: carbon-12 (12C), and carbon-13 (13C).

The ions then travel through a magnetic field, which diverts them into different sampling sensors, known as “Faraday cups“, depending on their mass and level of ionization.

18.3 Modern Dating Methods Radiometric dating has been carried out since 1905, and since then the techniques have been greatly improved and expanded.

Dating can now be performed on samples as small as a billionth of a gram using a mass spectrometer.

An error margin of 2–5 % has been achieved on younger Mesozoic rocks.

One of its great advantages is that any sample provides two clocks, one based on uranium-235’s decay to lead-207 with a half-life of about 700 million years, and one based on uranium-238’s decay to lead-206 with a half-life of about 4.5 billion years, providing a built-in cross-check that allows accurate determination of the age of the sample even if some of the lead has been lost.

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18.3.6 Radiocarbon Dating Method Radiocarbon dating, or carbon dating, is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) to determine the age of carbonaceous materials up to about 60,000 years.

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