Isochron dating is a common technique of radiometric dating and is applied to date certain events, such as crystallizationmetamorphismshock events, and differentiation of precursor melts, in the history of rocks. Isochron dating can be further separated into mineral isochron dating and whole rock isochron dating ; both techniques are applied frequently to date terrestrial and also extraterrestrial rocks meteorites. The advantage of isochron dating as compared to simple radiometric dating techniques is that no assumptions are needed about the initial amount of the daughter nuclide in the radioactive decay sequence.
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are. This is a spreadsheet that I use in petrology to walk students through calculating Rb-Sr isochrons and talking about isotope heterogeneity and sampling at various scales.
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.
Rubidium-strontium isochrons can be used to calculate the last time of complete melting of a rock. The complete melting of the rock is a necessary condition, because that is what accomplishes the equilibrium of the isotopes of strontium. The isotopes of an element are chemically identicaland any chemical process will treat them identically.
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.
Radioactive decay has become one of the most useful methods for determining the age of formation of rocks. However, in the very principal of radiometric dating there are several vital assumptions that have to be made in order for the age to be considered valid. These assumptions include: 1 the initial amount of the daughter isotope is known, 2 neither parent or daughter product has migrated into, or out of, the closed rock system, and 3 decay has occurred at a constant rate over time.
Petrology Tulane University Prof. Stephen A. Nelson Radiometric Dating Prior to the best and most accepted age of the Earth was that proposed by Lord Kelvin based on the amount of time necessary for the Earth to cool to its present temperature from a completely liquid state. Although we now recognize lots of problems with that calculation, the age of 25 my was accepted by most physicists, but considered too short by most geologists.
There are a number of useful isotope systems which constitute clocks in the rocks and are useful for geologic dating. But if asked what is the most reliable and precise method for dating the Earth and meteorites, Brent Dalyrymple would point to lead isochrons. He calls the lead method "the hourglass of the solar system".
The simplest form of isotopic age computation involves substituting three measurements into an equation of four variables, and solving for the fourth. The equation is the one which describes radioactive decay:. Solving the equation for "age," and incorporating the computation of the original quantity of parent isotope, we get:. Some assumptions have been made in the discussion of generic dating, for the sake of keeping the computation simple.