Uranium—lead dating , abbreviated U—Pb dating , is one of the oldest  and most refined of the radiometric dating schemes. It can be used to date rocks that formed and crystallised from about 1 million years to over 4. The method is usually applied to zircon. This mineral incorporates uranium and thorium atoms into its crystal structure , but strongly rejects lead when forming. As a result, newly-formed zircon deposits will contain no lead, meaning that any lead found in the mineral is radiogenic. Since the exact rate at which uranium decays into lead is known, the current ratio of lead to uranium in a sample of the mineral can be used to reliably determine its age.
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Radioactivity method for dating rocks
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One of the most frequent questions a Palaeobotanist or Palaeontologist hears concerns the method for dating sediments containing fossil plants and animals. Present knowledge is based on a long series of efforts to date the ages of various rocks. At the present time, the best absolute dating involves the use of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes contained in various minerals that make up a rock. It was demonstrated that there are radioactive isotopes of certain elements that decay at a constant rate irrespective of heat, pressure and any other factor in the environment. Radioactive isotopes like U , U , Thorium , K 40 , C 14 have been used in making ace determination. U and Th are found most frequently in an igneous rock while K 40 and C 14 are components of some sedimentary rocks.
Radiometric dating facts for kids
Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find. They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years. This is different to relative dating, which only puts geological events in time order. Most absolute dates for rocks are obtained with radiometric methods. These use radioactive minerals in rocks as geological clocks.
A technician of the U. Geological Survey uses a mass spectrometer to determine the proportions of neodymium isotopes contained in a sample of igneous rock. Cloth wrappings from a mummified bull Samples taken from a pyramid in Dashur, Egypt. This date agrees with the age of the pyramid as estimated from historical records.