1 radiometric dating

Any argon present in a mineral containing potassium-40 must have been formed as the result of radioactive decay.

F, the fraction of K40 remaining, is equal to the amount of potassium-40 in the sample, divided by the sum of potassium-40 in the sample plus the calculated amount of potassium required to produce the amount of argon found. In spite of the fact that it is a gas, the argon is trapped in the mineral and can't escape.

The two curves cross each other at half life = 1.00.

At this point the fraction of Rb87 = Sr87 = 0.500; at half life = 2.00, Rb87 = 25% and Sr87 = 75%, and so on. 131, Strahler, Science and Earth History: Points are taken from these curves and a plot of fraction Sr-87/Sr-86 (as ordinate) vs. It turns out to be a straight line with a slope of -1.00.

(Do not confuse with the highly radioactive isotope, strontium-90.) Strontium occurs naturally as a mixture of several nuclides, including the stable isotope strontium-86.

If three different strontium-containing minerals form at the same time in the same magma, each strontium containing mineral will have the same ratios of the different strontium nuclides, since all strontium nuclides behave the same chemically.

(Creationists claim that argon escape renders age determinations invalid.

We designate a specific group of atoms by using the term "nuclide." A nuclide refers to a group of atoms with specified atomic number and mass number.

If we knew the fraction of a radioactive element still remaining in a mineral, it would be a simple matter to calculate its age by the formula To determine the fraction still remaining, we must know both the amount now present and also the amount present when the mineral was formed.

Contrary to creationist claims, it is possible to make that determination, as the following will explain: By way of background, all atoms of a given element have the same number of protons in the nucleus; however, the number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary.

The amount of strontium-86 in a given mineral sample will not change.

Therefore the relative amounts of rubidium-87 and strontium-87 can be determined by expressing their ratios to strontium-86: Rb-87/Sr-86 and Sr87/Sr-86 We measure the amounts of rubidium-87 and strontium-87 as ratios to an unchanging content of strontium-86.

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