Radioactive decay Radioisotopic dating relies on the process of radioactive decay, in which the nuclei of radioactive atoms emit particles. This releases energy in the form of radiation and often transforms one element into another. For example, over time, uranium atoms lose alpha particles each made up of two protons and two neutrons and decay, via a chain of unstable daughters, into stable lead. Although it is impossible to predict when a particular unstable atom will decay, the decay rate is predictable for a very large number of atoms. In other words, the chance that a given atom will decay is constant over time. For example, as shown at left below, uranium-235 has a half-life of 704 million years.
Load Previous Page Importance of zircon in uranium-lead dating The mineral zircon adds three more fundamental advantages to uranium—lead dating. First, its crystal structure allows a small amount of tetravalent uranium to substitute for zirconium but excludes with great efficiency the incorporation of lead.
uranium lead dating vs carbon dating
How old are you? How old are your grandparents? Do you know how old Canada is?
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