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Argon argon dating wiki

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Although the time at which any individual atom will decay cannot be forecast, the time in which any given percentage of a sample will decay can be calculated to varying degrees of accuracy.

The time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is known as the half life of the isotope.

The age that can be calculated by radiometric dating is thus the time at which the rock or mineral cooled to blocking temperature.

These temperatures can also be determined in the field by comparing them to the dates of other minerals with well-known closure temperatures.

The complete octet (eight electrons) in the outer atomic shell makes argon stable and resistant to bonding with other elements.

Various elements are used for dating different time periods; ones with relatively short half-lives like carbon-14 (or C) are useful for dating once-living objects (since they include atmospheric carbon from when they were alive) from about ten to fifty thousand years old. Longer-lived isotopes provide dating information for much older times.

Symbolically, the process of radioactive decay can be expressed by the following differential equation, where N is the quantity of decaying nuclei and k is a positive number called the exponential decay constant.

The meaning of this equation is that the rate of change of the number of nuclei over time is proportional only to the number of nuclei.

The key is to measure an isotope that has had time to decay a measurable amount, but not so much as to only leave a trace remaining.

Given isotopes are useful for dating over a range from a fraction of their half life to about four or five times their half life.