For inorganic materials, such as rocks containing the radioactive isotope rubidium, the amount of the isotope in the object is compared to the amount of the isotope's decay products (in this case strontium).The object's approximate age can then be figured out using the known rate of decay of the isotope.
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Different dating methods may be needed to confirm the age of a sample.
For example, a study of the Amitsoq gneisses from western Greenland used five different radiometric dating methods to examine twelve samples and got agreement to within 30 million years on an age of 3,640my.
A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide.
This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay (emission of alpha particles) and beta decay (electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture).
It may be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
Fossils may be dated by taking samples of rocks from above and below the fossil's original position.Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a way to find out how old something is.The method compares the amount of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, in samples. It is the main way to learn the age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself.Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.Contamination from outside, or the loss of isotopes at any time from the rock's original formation, would change the result.