# Radioisotopes in radioactive dating

Another approach to describing reaction rates is based on the time required for the concentration of a reactant to decrease to one-half its initial value. If two reactions have the same order, the faster reaction will have a shorter half-life, and the slower reaction will have a longer half-life. The half-life of a first-order reaction under a given set of reaction conditions is a constant. This is not true for zeroth- and second-order reactions.

## 17.6: Radiocarbon Dating: Using Radioactivity to Measure the Age of Fossils and Other Artifacts

After this reading this section you will be able to do the following: As we have mentioned before each radioactive isotope has its own decay pattern. Not only does it decay by giving off energy and matter, but it also decays at a rate that is characteristic to itself. The rate at which a radioactive isotope decays is measured in half-life. The term half-life is defined as the time it takes for one-half of the atoms of a radioactive material to disintegrate.

Half-lives for various radioisotopes can range from a few microseconds to billions of years. See the table below for a list of radioisotopes and each of unique their half-lives. How does the half-life affect an isotope? Let's look closely at how the half-life affects an isotope. Suppose you have 10 grams of Barium It has a half-life of 86 minutes.

After 86 minutes, half of the atoms in the sample would have decayed into another element, Lanthanum Therefore, after one half-life, you would have 5 grams of Barium, and 5 grams of Lanthanum After another 86 minutes, half of the 5 grams of Barium would decay into Lanthanum; you would now have 2. How is half-life information used in carbon dating? The half-lives of certain types of radioisotopes are very useful to know. They allow us to determine the ages of very old artifacts.

Scientists can use the half-life of Carbon to determine the approximate age of organic objects less than 40, years old. By determining how much of the carbon has transmutated, scientist can calculate and estimate the age of a substance. This technique is known as Carbon dating. Isotopes with longer half-lives such as Uranium can be used to date even older objects. In the field of nondestructive testing radiographers people who produce radiographs to inspect objects also use half-life information.

A radiographer who works with radioisotopes needs to know the specific half-life to properly determine how much radiation the source in the camera is producing so that the film can be exposed properly. After one half-life of a given radioisotope, only one half as much of the original number of atoms remains active. Another way to look at this is that if the radiation intensity is cut in half; the source will have only half as many curies as it originally had.

It is important to recognize that the intensity or amount of radiation is decreasing due to age but not the penetrating energy of the radiation. The energy of the radiation for a given isotope is considered to be constant for the life of the isotope. About NDT. Site Navigation. Home Page. High Students. College Students.

NDT Professionals. Resources List. General Resources List. Education Resources. Intro to NDT Pres. Reference Materials. Material Properties. Teaching Resources. Classroom Tips. Peers to Contact. Provide Feedback. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Science Foundation. Describe carbon dating and how half-life information is used.

Explain how a radiographer uses half-life information.

## Dating Methods using Radioactive Isotopes. Oliver Seely. Radiocarbon method. The age of ancient artifacts which contain carbon can be determined by a. Radioactive dating can also be applied to the dating of rocks as old as the Archaeologists, geologists, physicists can choose between array of radioisotopes.

A technician of the U. Geological Survey uses a mass spectrometer to determine the proportions of neodymium isotopes contained in a sample of igneous rock. Cloth wrappings from a mummified bull Samples taken from a pyramid in Dashur, Egypt.

One of the most commonly used methods for determining the age of fossils is via radioactive dating a. Radioisotopes are alternative forms of an element that have the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons.

Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay. A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating.

## Radiometric Dating: Methods, Uses & the Significance of Half-Life

During natural radioactive decay, not all atoms of an element are instantaneously changed to atoms of another element. The decay process takes time and there is value in being able to express the rate at which a process occurs. Half-lives can be calculated from measurements on the change in mass of a nuclide and the time it takes to occur. The only thing we know is that in the time of that substance's half-life, half of the original nuclei will disintegrate. Although chemical changes were sped up or slowed down by changing factors such as temperature, concentration, etc, these factors have no effect on half-life. Each radioactive isotope will have its own unique half-life that is independent of any of these factors.

## RADIOMETRIC TIME SCALE

Radiometric dating , radioactive dating or radioisotope dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon , in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay. Together with stratigraphic principles , radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale. By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change. Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts. Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable.

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When we speak of the element Carbon, we most often refer to the most naturally abundant stable isotope 12 C. Although 12 C is definitely essential to life, its unstable sister isotope 14 C has become of extreme importance to the science world. Radiocarbon Dating is the process of determining the age of a sample by examining the amount of 14 C remaining against the known half-life, 5, years. The reason this process works is because when organisms are alive they are constantly replenishing their 14 C supply through respiration, providing them with a constant amount of the isotope.

## Radioactive Dating

After this reading this section you will be able to do the following: As we have mentioned before each radioactive isotope has its own decay pattern. Not only does it decay by giving off energy and matter, but it also decays at a rate that is characteristic to itself. The rate at which a radioactive isotope decays is measured in half-life. The term half-life is defined as the time it takes for one-half of the atoms of a radioactive material to disintegrate. Half-lives for various radioisotopes can range from a few microseconds to billions of years. See the table below for a list of radioisotopes and each of unique their half-lives. How does the half-life affect an isotope? Let's look closely at how the half-life affects an isotope. Suppose you have 10 grams of Barium

## Nuclear Chemistry: Half-Lives and Radioactive Dating

Radiometric dating is a means of determining the "age" of a mineral specimen by determining the relative amounts present of certain radioactive elements. By "age" we mean the elapsed time from when the mineral specimen was formed. Radioactive elements "decay" that is, change into other elements by "half lives. The formula for the fraction remaining is one-half raised to the power given by the number of years divided by the half-life in other words raised to a power equal to the number of half-lives. 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.

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Radioactive isotopes have a variety of applications. Generally, however, they are useful because either we can detect their radioactivity or we can use the energy they release. Radioactive isotopes are effective tracers because their radioactivity is easy to detect. For instance, leaks in underground water pipes can be discovered by running some tritium-containing water through the pipes and then using a Geiger counter to locate any radioactive tritium subsequently present in the ground around the pipes. Recall that tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

Many rocks and organisms contain radioactive isotopes, such as U and C These radioactive isotopes are unstable, decaying over time at a predictable rate. As the isotopes decay, they give off particles from their nucleus and become a different isotope. The parent isotope is the original unstable isotope, and daughter isotopes are the stable product of the decay. Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the parent isotopes to decay.

Our ancestors measured the passing of time with water clocks or hourglasses. Nature has none of our modern watches. It measures time -like our ancestors - by using hourglasses provided by radioactivity. In the radioactivity hourglass upper part, that gradually empties, are decaying nuclei. At the bottom part, slowly filling up, are the nuclei resulting from these decays. Radioactive hourglasses are used to date the relics of bygone civilizations, by measuring the amount of Carbon, whose decay rate allows for precise age calculations. Carbon is a radioactive carbon isotope present in the atmosphere, plants and living bodies.

Half-life and carbon dating - Nuclear chemistry - Chemistry - Khan Academy