How does potassium argon dating work

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If the ratio is half of this, it is 5,730 years old.Note that we don’t measure carbon-14 and compare it to how much carbon we assume was in the sample.Instead scientist use an accelerator mass spectrometer to measure the ratio of the carbon-14 atoms to the carbon-12 atoms.A mass spec can do this easily with proper preparation.Radiometric dating works by measuring how much a radioactive material has decayed, and using its known decay rate to calculate when the material was solidified.There are a variety of ways of doing this; here is a common method.Therefore carbon dating can only be used on organisms that were alive less than ≈60,000 year ago.Carbon dating is generally not done by measuring the radioactivity of the carbon-14 atoms.

Additional complications come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and from the above-ground nuclear tests done in the 1950s and 1960s.Once the material solidifies the decay product will thereafter be fixed in place with the radioactive material.This is the date we determine with radiometric dating.Using potassium-argon dating as an example, potassium-40 decays into argon-40 with a half-life of 1.25 billion years.While the material is molten, the argon gas will escape. Thus the rock starts off with 100% K-40 and 0% Ar-40.

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