So, we start out with two isotopes of uranium that are unstable and radioactive.They release radiation until they eventually become stable isotopes of lead.
Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. As we age, our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our gait slows.Uranium is not the only isotope that can be used to date rocks; we do see additional methods of radiometric dating based on the decay of different isotopes.For example, with potassium-argon dating, we can tell the age of materials that contain potassium because we know that potassium-40 decays into argon-40 with a half-life of 1.3 billion years.Radiocarbon dating, also known as carbon-14 dating or simply carbon dating, is a method used to determine the age of organic material by measuring the radioactivity of its carbon content.So, radiocarbon dating can be used to find the age of things that were once alive, like the Iceman.These two uranium isotopes decay at different rates. The half-life of the uranium-238 to lead-206 is 4.47 billion years.
The uranium-235 to lead-207 decay series is marked by a half-life of 704 million years.
Carbon-14 is continually being created in the atmosphere due to the action of cosmic rays on nitrogen in the air.
Carbon-14 combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide.
However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around.
So, we rely on radiometric dating to calculate their ages.
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