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Age of the Earth


Formation of solar system Readers Digest
Pb isotope geochronology
o The Age of the solar system
o Age of the earth
Formation of the solar system
CAIs (Ca-Al-rich inclusions) - meteorites
Al, Ca, Ti ions oxidize first
Age of solar system taken from age of CAIs
As solar system continues to cool, other solids condense from gas
How to determine age of CAIs?
Pb-Pb Isotopic Geochronology
Radioactive decay of uranium to lead follows one of 2 decay series:
o 238U -> 206Pb Half-life, 4.5 Ga
o 235U -> 207Pb Half life 0.7Ga (billions of years)
o 204Pb has no radiogenic parent
As time progresses, amount of lead in a material will increase
Different lead isotopes will form at different rates

Mass spectrometers
o Isotopes measured as ratios more accurate
o 207Pb/204Pb
o 206Pb/204Pb

Behaviour of Pb Isotopes
o 206: almost linear
o 207: parabolic, caps off faster because uranium breakdown is
Using Pb isotopes to date rocks
o In order to date rocks/meteorites, need to separate it into
different parts that have different amounts of uranium.

When 206Pb-207Pb is plotted, an isochron line is formed, where the

line can connect all plots on the graph in a linear pattern, creating
different slopes as functions of time
Using slope of line, age of rock can be determined
CAIs have been dated using Pb-Pb dating
(4567.2+-0.7 Ma)
Caveat: Disturbing isotopic system