3 radioactive elements in absolute dating

These rates of decay are known, so if you can measure the proportion of parent and daughter isotopes in rocks now, you can calculate when the rocks were formed.

Because of their unique decay rates, different elements are used for dating different age ranges.

Because of the fairly fast decay rate of carbon-14, it can only be used on material up to about 60,000 years old.

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Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.After one half-life, 50 percent of the original parents remains; after two, only 25 percent remains, and so on.Decay curve of a radioactive element with a half-life equal to one time unit.Note that at time 0, the time of the mineral's formation, the crystal contains only parent atoms.At time 1, 50% of the parent atoms remain; at time 2, only 25% remain, and so on.