# What radioactive dating mean

For example, the age of the Amitsoq gneisses from western Greenland was determined to be 3. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Click on the web site of Dr.

That's a lot of years. By counting the number of half-lives and the percentages remaining of parent and daughter isotopes, scientists are able to determine what they call the absolute age of a discovery.

For a half life of years, the following table shows the fraction remaining for various time periods:. Radiogenic isotope geology 2nd ed. Isotopic systems that have been exploited for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from only about 10 years e.

This predictability allows the relative abundances of related nuclides to be used as a clock to measure the time from the incorporation of the original nuclides into a material to the present.

Login or Sign up. Carbon is a radioactive isotope of carbon, with a half-life of 5, years, [25] [26] which is very short compared with the above isotopes and decays into nitrogen.

## Radioactive Dating and the Use of Isotopes

Basic Science Lab Skills: Well, scientists are able to answer all of these wondrous questions and more by use of a process called radiometric or radioactive dating. Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.

While uranium is water-soluble, thorium and protactinium are not, and so they are selectively precipitated into ocean-floor sedimentsfrom which their ratios are measured. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elementseach with its own atomic numberindicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page Transferring credit to the school of your choice Not sure what college you want to attend yet?

The best estimate from this dating technique says the man lived between and BC. Your goal is required. Register for a free trial Are you a student or a teacher?

You are viewing lesson Lesson 9 in what radioactive dating mean 20 of the course:. A new, more stable isotope, called the decay or daughter producttakes its place. The trapped charge accumulates over time at a rate determined by the amount of background radiation at the location where the sample was buried.

An isotope disintegrates at a constant rate called the half-life --the time it takes for half the atoms of a sample to decay.