Element used in dating - Element Used In Dating Rocks


In nature, all elements have atoms with varying numbers of neutrons in their nucleus. These differing atoms are called isotopes and they are represented by the sum of protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Let's look at a simple case, carbon. Carbon has 6 protons in its nucleus, but the number of neutrons its nucleus can host range from 6 to 8. We thus have three different isotopes of carbon: Carbon-12 with 6 protons and 6 neutrons in the nucleus, Carbon-13 with 6 protons and 7 neutrons in the nucleus, Carbon-14 with 6 protons and 8 neutrons in the nucleus. Both carbon-12 and carbon-13 are stable, but carbon-14 is unstable, which means that there are too many neutrons in the nucleus. Carbon-14 is also known as radiocarbon. As a result, carbon-14 decays by changing one proton into a neutron and becoming a different element, nitrogen-14 (with 7 protons and 7 neutrons in the nucleus). The isotope originating from the decay (nitrogen-14 in the case of radiocarbon) is called the daughter, while the original radioactive isotope (like carbon-14) is called the parent. The amount of time it takes for an unstable isotope to decay is determined statistically by looking at how long it takes for a large number of the same radioactive isotopes to decay to half its original amount. This time is known as the half-life of the radioactive isotope.

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Element used in dating

Element used in dating