Isotopes elements used radioactive dating

Isotopes are important for radiometric or age dating. Example: As uranium undergoes radioactive decay, it releases subatomic particles and energy, and ultimately decays to form lead.The radioactive isotope which undergoes decay is called the parent element.

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The proportion of parent to daughter tells us the number of half-lives, which we can use to find the age in years.

For example, if there are equal amounts of parent and daughter (such as 500 atoms of both carbon-14 and nitrogen-14 in the graph above), then one half-life has passed.

The rate of decay is proportional to the number of parent atoms present.

Radiometric dating graph showing the decline in the number of atoms of radioactive parent isotope (dark blue line) and the increase in the number of atoms of stable daughter isotope (red line).

Numbers on the vertical axis refer to numbers of atoms.

Numbers on the horizontal axis refer to numbers of half lives.

Atomic number of an atom = number of protons in the nucleus of that atom. The mass number may vary for an element, because of a differing number of neutrons. Radioactive decay occurs by releasing particles and energy.

Elements with various numbers of neutrons are called isotopes of that element. Note that some elements have both radioactive and non-radioactive isotopes. Radioactive decay occurs by releasing subatomic particles and energy.

Radioactive decay occurs at a constant rate, like the ticking of a clock.

Radioactive decay occurs at a constant exponential or geometric rate.

The mass spectrometer came into use after WWI (1918).

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