Radioactive decay and radiometric dating

Zircon has a high hardness (7.5) which makes it resistant to mechanical weathering, and it is also very resistant to chemical weathering. Chemically, zircon usually contains high amounts of U and low amounts of Pb, so that large amounts of radiogenic Pb are produced.

Other minerals that also show these properties, but are less commonly used in radiometric dating are Apatite and sphene.

Thus, if we start out with 1 gram of the parent isotope, after the passage of 1 half-life there will be 0.5 gram of the parent isotope left.

After the passage of two half-lives only 0.25 gram will remain, and after 3 half lives only 0.125 will remain etc.

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Such trapped Ar is not problematical when the age of the rock is in hundreds of millions of years.Nd ratios on several minerals with a mass spectrometer and then from the slope determine the age of the rock. If a magma cools quickly on the surface of the Earth, some of the Ar may be trapped.The initial ratio has particular importance for studying the chemical evolution of the Earth's mantle and crust, as we discussed in the section on igneous rocks. If this happens, then the date obtained will be older than the date at which the magma erupted.The term U–Pb dating normally implies the coupled use of both decay schemes in the 'concordia diagram' (see below).However, use of a single decay scheme (usually Pb) leads to the U–Pb isochron dating method, analogous to the rubidium–strontium dating method.

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