The Age of the Earth

The isochron method Many radioactive dating methods are based on minute additions of daughter products to a rock or mineral in which a considerable amount of daughter-type isotopes already exists. These isotopes did not come from radioactive decay in the system but rather formed during the original creation of the elements. In this case, it is a big advantage to present the data in a form in which the abundance of both the parent and daughter isotopes are given with respect to the abundance of the initial background daughter. The incremental additions of the daughter type can then be viewed in proportion to the abundance of parent atoms. In mathematical terms this is achieved as follows. This term, shown in Figure 1, is called the initial ratio. The slope is proportional to the geologic age of the system. In practice, the isochron approach has many inherent advantages. When a single body of liquid rock crystallizes, parent and daughter elements may separate so that, once solid, the isotopic data would define a series of points, such as those shown as open circles designated R1, R2, R3 in Figure 1. With time each would then develop additional daughter abundances in proportion to the amount of parent present.

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Even a tiny speck of dust could throw off measurements of strontium ratios. Tiny drops of strontium dissolved in pure water are collected in a cup. The process takes place inside a laboratory hood specially designed without metal parts to prevent contamination the could invalidate results. The solution will be daubed onto a filament, dried and sealed inside the mass spectrometer in the next lab.

Sometimes, by chance these creatures also incorporate the element strontium into their shells — strontium is an element in seawater that is chemically similar to calcium but found in much lower concentrations. For every calcium atoms, seashells contain just a few atoms of strontium.

The rubidium-strontium dating method is a radiometric dating technique used by scientists to determine the age of rocks and minerals from the quantities they contain of specific isotopes of rubidium (87 Rb) and strontium (87 Sr, 86 Sr).

Rubidium—strontium method The radioactive decay of rubidium 87Rb to strontium 87Sr was the first widely used dating system that utilized the isochron method. Because rubidium is concentrated in crustal rocks, the continents have a much higher abundance of the daughter isotope strontium compared with the stable isotopes. A ratio for average continental crust of about 0. This difference may appear small, but, considering that modern instruments can make the determination to a few parts in 70, , it is quite significant.

Dissolved strontium in the oceans today has a value of 0. Thus, if well-dated, unaltered fossil shells containing strontium from ancient seawater are analyzed, changes in this ratio with time can be observed and applied in reverse to estimate the time when fossils of unknown age were deposited.

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Methods of Dating the Age of Meteorites Meteorites are among the oldest objects we know about – formed about 4. But how do scientists know this? This article describes the principles and methods used to make that determination.

Rubidium–strontium (Rb–Sr) dating was the first technique in which the whole rock isochron method was extensively employed. Certain rocks that cooled quickly at the surface were found to give precisely defined linear isochrons, but many others did not.

Radioactive decay[ edit ] Example of a radioactive decay chain from lead Pb to lead Pb. The final decay product, lead Pb , is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide. This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay emission of alpha particles and beta decay electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture.

Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides. While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is unpredictable, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life , usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques.

How Old is the Earth

History and description[ edit ] ALH on display at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History This rock is considered to be one of the oldest Martian meteorites, proposed to have crystallized from molten rock 4. According to the analysis, Eos Chasma in the Valles Marineris canyon appears to be the source of the meteorite.

The theory holds that ALH was blasted off from the surface of Mars by a meteor impact about 17 million years ago [10] and fell on Earth roughly 13, years ago.

Radiometric dating is the process of determining the age of rocks from In the rubidium-strontium method, rubidium decays with a half-life of billion neodymium If different minerals from the same rock plot along a line, the slope is determined, and is proportional to the age.

Radiometric dating is a means of determining the “age” of a mineral specimen by determining the relative amounts present of certain radioactive elements. By “age” we mean the elapsed time from when the mineral specimen was formed. Radioactive elements “decay” that is, change into other elements by “half lives. The formula for the fraction remaining is one-half raised to the power given by the number of years divided by the half-life in other words raised to a power equal to the number of half-lives.

To determine the fraction still remaining, we must know both the amount now present and also the amount present when the mineral was formed. Contrary to creationist claims, it is possible to make that determination, as the following will explain: By way of background, all atoms of a given element have the same number of protons in the nucleus; however, the number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary. An atom with the same number of protons in the nucleus but a different number of neutrons is called an isotope.

For example, uranium is an isotope of uranium , because it has 3 more neutrons in the nucleus. It has the same number of protons, otherwise it wouldn’t be uranium. The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom is called its atomic number. The sum of protons plus neutrons is the mass number. We designate a specific group of atoms by using the term “nuclide. The element potassium symbol K has three nuclides, K39, K40, and K

Rubidium–strontium dating

The assumption that the geologic column is a base from which to calibrate the C dates is not wise. With a half-life of only years, carbon dating has nothing to do with dating the geological ages! Whether by sloppiness or gross ignorance, Dr. Hovind is confusing the carbon “clock” with other radiometric “clocks. Being ancient, the C content has long since decayed away and that makes it useful in “zeroing” laboratory instruments.

It’s just one of the tricks that have been used to make the work a little more precise.

It follows that uranium-lead, potassium-argon (K-Ar), and Rubidium-Strontium (Rb-Sr) decay can be used for very long time periods, whilst radiocarbon dating can only be used up to about 70, years.

Example[ edit ] For example, consider the case of an igneous rock such as a granite that contains several major Sr-bearing minerals including plagioclase feldspar , K-feldspar , hornblende , biotite , and muscovite. Rubidium substitutes for potassium within the lattice of minerals at a rate proportional to its concentration within the melt. The ideal scenario according to Bowen’s reaction series would see a granite melt begin crystallizing a cumulate assemblage of plagioclase and hornblende i.

This then causes orthoclase and biotite, both K rich minerals into which Rb can substitute, to precipitate. The resulting Rb-Sr ratios and Rb and Sr abundances of both the whole rocks and their component minerals will be markedly different. This, thus, allows a different rate of radiogenic Sr to evolve in the separate rocks and their component minerals as time progresses. Calculating the age[ edit ] The age of a sample is determined by analysing several minerals within the sample.

If these form a straight line then the samples are consistent, and the age probably reliable. The slope of the line dictates the age of the sample. Several preconditions must be satisfied before a Rb-Sr date can be considered as representing the time of emplacement or formation of a rock. Rb and Sr are relatively mobile alkaline elements and as such are relatively easily moved around by the hot, often carbonated hydrothermal fluids present during metamorphism or magmatism.


Volume 69 , September , Pages Review Pegmatites and aplites: Their genetic and applied ore geology Author links open overlay panel Harald G. Dill Show more https: Pegmatites are treated in this study together with aplitic rocks, which are compositionally similar to pegmatites but strikingly different from them by their fine-grained texture. Rocks of the granitic suite take an intermediate position between the two and, locally, they are transitional into both end-member types, emphasized in the denomination by supplements such as aplite granite or pegmatitic granite.

A similar scenario can be reported for syenitic and, less frequently, for granodioritic through dioritic rocks which are found to be associated in time and space with pegmatites and aplites.

Dating – Rubidium–strontium method: The radioactive decay of rubidium (87Rb) to strontium (87Sr) was the first widely used dating system that utilized the isochron method. Rubidium is a relatively abundant trace element in Earth’s crust and can be found in many common rock-forming minerals in which it substitutes for the major element potassium.

A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals; or a body of undifferentiated mineral matter. A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties. Some rocks are crystals. A crystal is piece of a homogeneous solid substance having a naturally geometrically regular form with symmetrically arranged plane faces.

Diamonds, rubies and other gems are rocks. Most gems are crystals formed by the cooling of hot gases, solutions and melts deep inside the earth. When excited atoms lose energy from cooling they form a lattice, typical of crystals. The natural laws that create gems are the same as those that create snowflakes and salt, except that tremendous pressures and temperatures are needed.

Minerals must be mined from the ground, either by surface, underground, or drilling methods. Sand and gravel is usually mined in surface pits or rock is crushed to size, gold is mined in surface pits, underground mines, and in streams and rivers. Igneous Rocks rhyolite, a kind of igneous rock Igneous rocks include granite made of crystals of quartz and feldspar, mixed with other minerals.