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For an element to be useful for geochronology (measuring geological time), the isotope must be reasonably abundant and produce daughter isotopes at a good rate.Either a whole rock or a single mineral grain can be dated.This technique uses the same minerals and rocks as for K-Ar dating but restricts measurements to the argon isotopic system which is not so affected by metamorphic and alteration events. The decay of 147Sm to 143Nd for dating rocks began in the mid-1970s and was widespread by the early 1980s.It is useful for dating very old igneous and metamorphic rocks and also meteorites and other cosmic fragments.The relationship between the two is: T = 0.693 / λ Many different radioactive isotopes and techniques are used for dating.All rely on the fact that certain elements (particularly uranium and potassium) contain a number of different isotopes whose half-life is exactly known and therefore the relative concentrations of these isotopes within a rock or mineral can measure the age.

The main limitation is that it only works on certain igneous rocks as most rocks have insufficient Re and Os or lack evolution of the isotopes.

All living organisms take up carbon from their environment including a small proportion of the radioactive isotope 14C (formed from nitrogen-14 as a result of cosmic ray bombardment).

The amount of carbon isotopes within living organisms reaches an equilibrium value, on death no more is taken up, and the 14C present starts to decay at a known rate.

This technique is used on ferromagnesian (iron/magnesium-containing) minerals such as micas and amphiboles or on limestones which also contain abundant strontium.

However, both Rb and Sr easily follow fluids that move through rocks or escape during some types of metamorphism. The dual decay of potassium (K) to 40Ar (argon) and 40Ca (calcium) was worked out between 19.

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those that form during chemical reactions without breaking down).

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