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(Radioactive Dating)

Time Scale

(Radioactive Dating)

Unconformi)es in the

Grand Canyon

© 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

Neutron 1.008982 amu = 1.6703205 x 10-27 kg 0

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

neutrons);

nuclides with the same # of

neutrons, but variable Z;

e.g. 37Cl & 39K are isotones

(both have 20 neutrons)

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.

235U and 238U

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

• 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”

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

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

spectrometry and is equal to 1.9922x10-23 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.

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

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

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

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

Central path of stability

This table represents all the known

nuclides. The stable nuclides are shown as

black dots .

NUCLIDE CHART

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

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

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

The only equation you have to memorize

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-

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?

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

Mineral isochron represents age of last metamorphosis

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