Radioactive isotope dating techniques

The isotope potassium-40 (k-40) decays into a fixed ratio of calcium and argon (88.8 percent calcium, 11.2 percent argon).

The range of practical use for carbon-14 dating is roughly a few hundred years to fifty thousand years.In radiometric dating, the decaying matter is called the parent isotope and the stable outcome of the decay is called the daughter product.Since the half-life of carbon-14 is 5730 years, scientists can measure the age of a sample by determining how many times its original carbon-14 amount has been cut in half since the death of the organism.Each original isotope, called the parent, gradually decays to form a new isotope, called the daughter.Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.

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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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