Nuclear dating methods

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Radioactive dating is a method of dating rocks and minerals using radioactive isotopes.This method is useful for igneous and metamorphic rocks, which cannot be dated by the stratigraphic correlation method used for sedimentary rocks. Some do not change with time and form stable isotopes (i.e.those that form during chemical reactions without breaking down).The unstable or more commonly known radioactive isotopes break down by radioactive decay into other isotopes.The initial step in the dating process is the irradiation of the geological sample in a neutron flux to convert a portion of the the naturally occurring stable isotope K-39 to Ar-39, a radioisotope with a moderate half-life of 269 years.Another isotope of argon, Ar-40, will also be present in the sample as the decay product of the naturally occurring long-lived radioisotope K-40 with a half life of 1,280,000,000 years.

Mc Master Nuclear Reactor is well-suited for use as a neutron source for the 39-Argon/40-Argon dating technique because of its near-optimal fast neutron flux, the convenience and flexibility of the irradiation facility, and the relatively low sample heating resulting from its water-cooled design.The technique of comparing the abundance ratio of a radioactive isotope to a reference isotope to determine the age of a material is called radioactive dating.Many isotopes have been studied, probing a wide range of time scales.Nuclear dating plays an important role in the fields of Earth Sciences and Archaeology as one of the few viable techniques for determining the age of geological samples.Argon-39/Argon-40 dating is the most widely used variant of nuclear dating due to its accuracy, the small sample size required and the wide sample age range for which it is valid.We note that at the instant the swimmer touches the end of the pool our wristwatch reads and 53 seconds.

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