Geologists use radiometric dating to estimate how long ago rocks formed, and to infer the ages of fossils contained within those rocks. Radioactive elements decay The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements. Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms. When molten rock cools, forming what are called igneous rocks, radioactive atoms are trapped inside. Afterwards, they decay at a predictable rate.
Related to radiometric dating: Carbon 14 dating. A method for determining the age of an object based on the concentration of a particular radioactive isotope contained within it and the half-life of that isotope. Also called: radioactive dating. A method for determining the age of an object based on the concentration of a particular radioactive isotope contained within it. The amount of the isotope in the object is compared to the amount of the isotope's decay products. The object's approximate age can then be figured out using the known rate of decay of the isotope. Radiocarbon dating is one kind of radiometric dating, used for determining the age of organic remains that are less than 50, years old.
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A technician of the U. Geological Survey uses a mass spectrometer to determine the proportions of neodymium isotopes contained in a sample of igneous rock. Cloth wrappings from a mummified bull Samples taken from a pyramid in Dashur, Egypt. This date agrees with the age of the pyramid as estimated from historical records.
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