Radiometric dating of sediments seven secrets of a healthy dating relationship
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It must also be assumed that all the daughter isotope measured in the rock today formed as a result of decay of the parent.
This may not always be the case because addition or loss of isotopes can occur during weathering, diagenesis and metamorphism and this will lead to errors in the calculation of the age.
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The amount of deflection will depend upon the atomic mass of the particles so different isotopes are separated by their different masses.
Detectors at the end of the tube record the number of charged particles of a particular atomic mass and provide a ratio of the isotopes present in a sample.
Part-way along the tube a magnetic field induced by an electromagnet deflects the charged particles.K–Ar dating has therefore been widely used in dating rocks but there is a significant problem with the method, which is that the daughter isotope can escape from the rock by diffusion because it is a gas.The amount of argon measured is therefore commonly less than the total amount produced by the radioactive decay of potassium.This is the most widely used system for radiometric dating of sedimentary strata, because it can be used to date the potassium-rich authigenic mineral glauconite and volcanic rocks (lavas and tuffs) that contain potassium in minerals such as some feldspars and micas.
One of the isotopes of potassium, 40 K, decays partly by electron capture (a proton becomes a neutron) to an isotope of the gaseous element argon, 40 Ar, the other product being an isotope of calcium, 40 Ca.The half-life of this decay is 11.93 billion years.