Four radioisotopes commonly used radiometric dating
The isotopes are then measured within the same machine by an attached mass spectrometer (an example of this is SIMS analysis).
This is a common dating method mainly used by archaeologists, as it can only date geologically recent organic materials, usually charcoal, but also bone and antlers.
those that form during chemical reactions without breaking down).
This system is highly favoured for accurate dating of igneous and metamorphic rocks, through many different techniques.All living organisms take up carbon from their environment including a small proportion of the radioactive isotope 14C (formed from nitrogen-14 as a result of cosmic ray bombardment).The amount of carbon isotopes within living organisms reaches an equilibrium value, on death no more is taken up, and the 14C present starts to decay at a known rate.The relationship between the two is: T = 0.693 / λ Many different radioactive isotopes and techniques are used for dating.All rely on the fact that certain elements (particularly uranium and potassium) contain a number of different isotopes whose half-life is exactly known and therefore the relative concentrations of these isotopes within a rock or mineral can measure the age.
Radiocarbon dating is normally suitable for organic materials less than 50 000 years old because beyond that time the amount of 14C becomes too small to be accurately measured.