Oxygen isotope dating

In other words, an isotope is an element that is like other elements with the same atomic number except that it has a different number of neutrons.Furthermore, since the number of neutrons is directly proportional to the atomic mass of an element, isotopes with a greater number of neutrons are weightier than those with fewer neutrons.

This webpage is dedicated to one of these methods, namely, oxygen-isotope ratios.What caused camelids to migrate to North America during the Pleistocene Epoch?These and countless other questions are the types of inquiries that drive Quaternary geology.The masses of O-16 and O-18 are different enough that these isotopes are effectively separated by natural processes. Without going into too much detail, O-16 and O-18 are fractionated by the process of evaporation as well as when minerals, including shells of animals and plants, are precipitated from water.The main driver of the evaporation effect in most geological intervals is the amount of water that has been removed from the ocean and is sequestered in ice (see video clips below).

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Evaporation selectively removes the lighter isotope, O-16 from water leaving higher concentrations of the heavier isotope, O-18.

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