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This is an enormous branch of geochemistry called Geochronology. It is an accurate way to date specific geologic events.

When an unstable Uranium (U) isotope decays, it turns into an isotope of the element Lead (Pb).

We call the original, unstable isotope (Uranium) the "parent", and the product of decay (Lead) the "daughter".

From careful physics and chemistry experiments, we know that parents turn into daughters at a very consistent, predictable rate.

For an example of how geologists use radiometric dating, read on: A geologist can pick up a rock from a mountainside somewhere, and bring it back to the lab, and separate out the individual minerals that compose the rock.

They can then look at a single mineral, and using an instrument called a mass spectrometer, they can measure the amount of parent and the amount of daughter in that mineral.

Comments Lead dating

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