Radiometric dating of rocks and minerals

material and is consistent with the radiometric ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples.Following the development of radiometric age-dating in the early 20th century, measurements of lead in uranium-rich minerals showed that some were in excess of a billion years old.Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel.By 1907 study of the decay products of uranium (lead and intermediate radioactive elements that decay to lead) demonstrated to B. Boltwood that the lead/uranium ratio in uranium minerals increased with geologic age and might provide a geological dating tool.Radioactive elements are unstable; they breakdown spontaneously into more stable atoms over time, a process known as radioactive decay.Radioactive decay occurs at a constant rate, specific to each radioactive isotope.As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.

All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.All rocks and minerals contain long-lived radioactive elements that were incorporated into Earth when the Solar System formed.These radioactive elements constitute independent clocks that allow geologists to determine the age of the rocks in which they occur.giving an age for the Solar System and an upper limit for the age of Earth.It is hypothesised that the accretion of Earth began soon after the formation of the calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions and the meteorites.

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