Radioactive dating works best with what type of rocks

While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is unpredictable, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life, usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques.

After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide or decay product.

The basic equation of radiometric dating requires that neither the parent nuclide nor the daughter product can enter or leave the material after its formation.

The possible confounding effects of contamination of parent and daughter isotopes have to be considered, as do the effects of any loss or gain of such isotopes since the sample was created.

It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.

Precision is enhanced if measurements are taken on multiple samples from different locations of the rock body.

The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements.

Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms." When molten rock cools, forming what are called igneous rocks, radioactive atoms are trapped inside. By measuring the quantity of unstable atoms left in a rock and comparing it to the quantity of stable daughter atoms in the rock, scientists can estimate the amount of time that has passed since that rock formed.

The procedures used to isolate and analyze the parent and daughter nuclides must be precise and accurate.

Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale.

Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium–argon dating and uranium–lead dating.

Isotopic systems that have been exploited for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from only about 10 years (e.g., tritium) to over 100 billion years (e.g., samarium-147).

For most radioactive nuclides, the half-life depends solely on nuclear properties and is essentially a constant.

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It is not affected by external factors such as temperature, pressure, chemical environment, or presence of a magnetic or electric field.

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