Radiometric dating earth rocks and minerals

Radiometric Dating

radiometric dating earth rocks and minerals

Using relative and radiometric dating methods, geologists are able to answer Second, it is possible to determine the numerical age for fossils or earth materials . . Some minerals in rocks and organic matter (e.g., wood, bones, and shells). Isotopic dating of rocks, or the minerals in them, is based on the fact that we know the 40K is a radioactive isotope of potassium that is present in very small amounts in all minerals that have potassium in them. J. Earth Sciences, V. 13, p . Give four examples of radioactive materials that are used to date objects, and explain He assumed that the Earth began as a ball of molten rock, which has steadily . Uranium-lead dating is usually performed on crystals of the mineral zircon.

Soon after the war, Harold C. Wasserburg applied the mass spectrometer to the study of geochronology. This device separates the different isotopes of the same element and can measure the variations in these isotopic abundances to within one part in 10, By determining the amount of the parent and daughter isotopes present in a sample and by knowing their rate of radioactive decay each radioisotope has its own decay constantthe isotopic age of the sample can be calculated. For dating minerals and rocks, investigators commonly use the following couplets of parent and daughter isotopes: The SHRIMP Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe enables the accurate determination of the uranium-lead age of the mineral zircon, and this has revolutionized the understanding of the isotopic age of formation of zircon-bearing igneous granitic rocks.

Another technological development is the ICP-MS Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometerwhich is able to provide the isotopic age of the minerals zircon, titanite, rutile, and monazite. These minerals are common to many igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Such techniques have had an enormous impact on scientific knowledge of Earth history because precise dates can now be obtained on rocks in all orogenic mountain belts ranging in age from the early Archean about 4 billion years old to the early Neogene roughly 20 million years old. The oldest known rocks on Earth, estimated at 4. A radiometric dating technique that measures the ratio of the rare earth elements neodymium and samarium present in a rock sample was used to produce the estimate.

Also, by extrapolating backward in time to a situation when there was no lead that had been produced by radiogenic processes, a figure of about 4. This figure is of the same order as ages obtained for certain meteorites and lunar rocks. Between and he elucidated the complex sequence of chemical reactions attending the precipitation of salts evaporites from the evaporation of seawater. His success at producing from aqueous solutions artificial minerals and rocks like those found in natural salt deposits stimulated studies of minerals crystallizing from silicate melts simulating the magmas from which igneous rocks have formed.

Bowen conducted extensive phase-equilibrium studies of silicate systems, brought together in his Evolution of the Igneous Rocks Experimental petrology also provides valuable data on the stability limits of individual metamorphic minerals and of the reactions between different minerals in a wide variety of chemical systems. Thus the metamorphic petrologist today can compare the minerals and mineral assemblages found in natural rocks with comparable examples produced in the laboratory, the pressure—temperature limits of which have been well defined by experimental petrology.

Another branch of experimental science relates to the deformation of rocks. In the American physicist P. Bridgman developed a technique for subjecting rock samples to high pressures similar to those deep in the Earth.

Studies of the behaviour of rocks in the laboratory have shown that their strength increases with confining pressure but decreases with rise in temperature.

Down to depths of a few kilometres the strength of rocks would be expected to increase. At greater depths the temperature effect should become dominant, and response to stress should result in flow rather than fracture of rocks.

Rubeydemonstrated that fluids in the pores of rock may reduce internal friction and permit gliding over nearly horizontal planes of the large overthrust blocks associated with folded mountains. More recently the Norwegian petrologist Hans Ramberg performed many experiments with a large centrifuge that produced a negative gravity effect and thus was able to create structures simulating salt domes, which rise because of the relatively low density of the salt in comparison with that of surrounding rocks.

With all these deformation experiments, it is necessary to scale down as precisely as possible variables such as the time and velocity of the experiment and the viscosity and temperature of the material from the natural to the laboratory conditions.

radiometric dating earth rocks and minerals

In another German physicist, Max von Lauerealized that X-rays were scattered and deflected at regular angles when they passed through a copper sulfate crystal, and so he produced the first X-ray diffraction pattern on a photographic film.

If a magma cools quickly on the surface of the Earth, some of the Ar may be trapped.

If this happens, then the date obtained will be older than the date at which the magma erupted. For example lavas dated by K-Ar that are historic in age, usually show 1 to 2 my old ages due to trapped Ar. Such trapped Ar is not problematical when the age of the rock is in hundreds of millions of years. The dating equation used for K-Ar is: Some of the problems associated with K-Ar dating are Excess argon.

This is only a problem when dating very young rocks or in dating whole rocks instead of mineral separates.

Radiometric dating ~ Learning Geology

Minerals should not contain any excess Ar because Ar should not enter the crystal structure of a mineral when it crystallizes. Thus, it always better to date minerals that have high K contents, such as sanidine or biotite.

If these are not present, Plagioclase or hornblende. If none of these are present, then the only alternative is to date whole rocks. Some 40Ar could be absorbed onto the sample surface. This can be corrected for.

Most minerals will lose Ar on heating above oC - thus metamorphism can cause a loss of Ar or a partial loss of Ar which will reset the atomic clock.

radiometric dating earth rocks and minerals

If only partial loss of Ar occurs then the age determined will be in between the age of crystallization and the age of metamorphism.

If complete loss of Ar occurs during metamorphism, then the date is that of the metamorphic event. The problem is that there is no way of knowing whether or not partial or complete loss of Ar has occurred. Thus the ratio of 14C to 14N in the Earth's atmosphere is constant. Living organisms continually exchange Carbon and Nitrogen with the atmosphere by breathing, feeding, and photosynthesis.

When an organism dies, the 14C decays back to 14N, with a half-life of 5, years. Measuring the amount of 14C in this dead material thus enables the determination of the time elapsed since the organism died.