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Earth’s history and Geological Time Scale

(Radioactive Dating)

Previous Class: Earth’s history and Geological


Time Scale
(Radioactive Dating)
Unconformi)es in the
Grand Canyon

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© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Absolute Da,ng: Radioac,ve Isotopes
Nomenclature
“Nuclide” = a particular atom
An atom is made up of a nucleus and surrounding electrons
The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons (& other tiny, tiny
particles)Particle Mass Charge

Proton 1.007593 amu = 1.6726231 x 10-27 kg +1


Neutron 1.008982 amu = 1.6703205 x 10-27 kg 0

Electron 0.000548756 amu = 9.10093897 x 10-31 kg -1

Z = proton number = No. of protons in the nucleus; defines an


element
N = neutron number = No of neutrons in the nucleus

X
A = mass number = Z + N
A
Z
Notation:
So what is an isotope?
Isotope = line of equal Z (no. of
proton);
nuclides with the same No. of
protons (therefore they are the
same element), but variable N;
e.g. 12C, 13C, 14C are isotopes

Isotone = line of equal N (no. of


neutrons);
nuclides with the same # of
neutrons, but variable Z;
e.g. 37Cl & 39K are isotones
(both have 20 neutrons)

Isobar = Equal mass;


nuclides with the same mass
number, but variable N and Z;
e.g. 12C, 12B, 12Be are isobars
Isotopes

•  For a given chemical element, one defines an isotope as follows: an isotope has a
number of protons and electrons (Z) and a variable number of nucleons. The
number of neutrons is variable.

•  Example: uranium has two well known isotopes:


235U and 238U

•  For 235U : Z=92, A=235 , N=A-Z=143 neutrons


•  For 238U : Z=92, A=238 , N=A-Z=146 neutrons

•  Example: 14C and 12C:


•  14C has 6 electrons, 6 protons, 8 neutrons
•  12C has 6 electrons, 6 neutrons, 6 protons.
Nuclear Stability
What makes a nucleus stable is something called its “Binding energy”

Mass and energy are interchangeable (Einstein)


E = mc2 EB = Δm c2
(Conversion factor for mass to energy: 1 amu = 931.5 MeV)
Δm = mass defect, C =velocity of light, EB = Nuclear stability

EB is a measure of nuclear stability: those nuclei with the largest


binding energy per nucleon are the most stable.
•  Mass:
The mass of a nuclide is given in amu (atomic mass unit)

Defini,on: M(12C)=12 amu
mproton≈mneutron≈1 amu

•  The mass of one atom of carbon 12 (12C) is determined by mass


spectrometry and is equal to 1.9922x10-23 g

•  This implies 1 C= 1.6605655x10-24 g


•  Mass defect:
One should have M(12C)=6Mn+6Mp+6Me

There is a mass difference between the sum of masses of par,cles
making the atom and the mass of the atom.

ΔM=[Z.Mp+N.Mn+Z.Me-M(AX)]=
where Mp, Mn et Me are the proton, neutron, electron masses
respec,vely.

“The whole is less than the sum of its parts”


Radioac)vity
Types of radioactive decay
•  Alpha emission
– Emission of two protons and two neutrons (an alpha
particle)
– Mass number is reduced by 4, and the atomic number
is lowered by 2

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Da)ng with Radioac)vity
Types of radioactive decay
•  Beta emission
– An electron (beta particle) is ejected from the nucleus.
– Mass number remains unchanged and the atomic
number increases by 1

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Da)ng with Radioac)vity
Types of radioactive decay
•  Electron capture
– An electron is captured by the nucleus and combines
with a proton to form a neutron.
– Mass number remains unchanged and the atomic
number decreases by 1

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Da)ng with Radioac)vity
•  Parent—an unstable radioactive isotope
•  Daughter product—the isotopes resulting
from the decay of a parent
•  Half-life—the time required for one-half of
the radioactive nuclei in a sample to decay

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Central path of stability
This table represents all the known
nuclides. The stable nuclides are shown as
black dots .

NUCLIDE CHART

Z The stability of a nucleus depends on its ratio of N/Z

N Stable nuclides plot along a central path of stability


At low masses, N/Z ≈ 1 (Z=N)
At high masses, N/Z ≈ 3
NUCLIDE CHART
Chart of nuclides (2)
β+ or EC
Number of protons

β-

Number of neutrons
Dr. Indra Sekhar Sen E-mail: isen@iitk.ac.in hDp://home.iitk.ac.in/~isen/
Da)ng with Radioac)vity

The actual number of atoms that decay (radioactive parent)


continually decreases and the number of stable daughter atoms
(radiogenic daughter) increases.
Radioac)ve-Decay Curve
One half-life

Two half-lives
Three half-lives

Four half-lives

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Isotopes Commonly Used in
Radiometric Da)ng
Isotopes with a long enough half-life to have geological significance
87Rb→ 87Sr+β− (+υ +Q) 48.8x109 years
147Sm→ 143Nd + α +Q 1.06x1011 years
176Lu→ 176Hf+β-(+υ + Q) 3.53x1010 years ?
187Re→ 187Os+β- (+υ +Q) 4.56x1010 years
238U→ 206Pb+ 8α +6β- + Q 4.468x109 years
235U→ 207Pb +7α+4β- +Q 0.7038x109 years
232Th→ 208Pb + 6α +4β- +Q 14.010x109 years

40K+e→ 40Ar +γ (11%) 1.25x109 years


The only equation you have to memorize

D* = radiogenic daughter, N daughter atoms


D = D0 + N (eλt –1) produced by radioactive decay of a parent

Example :
Divide by a stable, non-radiogenic isotope of the
daughter element to get ratios e.g. for 87Rb → 87Sr +
β-

87Sr/86Sr = (87Sr/86Sr)0 + 87Rb/86Sr (eλt –1)


87Rb-87Sr decay equation
87 Rb/Sr= Rb/Sr=1.2
Sr ⎛ 87 Sr ⎞ 87 Rb λt 0.8
86
= ⎜ 86 ⎟ + 86 (e − 1) ROCK
Sr ⎝ Sr ⎠i Sr (87Sr/86Sr)
i= 0.702

Rb/Sr=0.6
measured measured
when you crystallize a rock,
you will always have some Sr

crystallization
present

t=Time of
So how do you determine the initial 87Sr/86Sr ratio?

Because igneous rocks are so heterogeneous,


different mineral phases will have different Rb/Sr
ratios, even though they have the same crystallization MANTLE
age and the same 87Sr/86Sr initial. 87Sr/86Sr
= 0.702
Da,ng
We can use the radioactive decay equation to calculate the age
of a sample. We can measure the present day ratios and λ, but
we still have 2 unknowns: D0 and t. What can we do?
1) Assume zero initial daughter. This approach can be
valid if you know something about mineralogy.
2) Use 2 different isotope systems. For example, if you
know what the age should be from a system where you
think you know the initial daughter ratio (e.g. U-Pb), you
can calculate the initial daughter ratio.
3) Assume one and calculate the other. If we assume
the initial ratio and calculate an age, it is called a “Model
Age”
4) Use an isochron diagram
The Isochron
The radioactive decay equation is in the form of a line:
D = D0 + P(eλt-1) … y = b + xm
Plot D ratio vs. P/D for several comagmatic or cogenetic
samples and draw a best fit line through the data
y-intercept = initial D ratio, slope is related to t
This line is called an “Isochron”
Represents true age if:
(1) The system was at isotopic equilibrium at time t = 0.
I.e. all the samples formed with the same initial
daughter isotope ratio
(2) Closed system since formation

Whole-rock isochron represents age of formation


Mineral isochron represents age of last metamorphosis