Conversely, these fluids may metasomatically alter a rock, introducing new Rb and Sr into the rock generally during potassic alteration or calcic albitisation alteration. Rb-Sr can then be used on the altered mineralogy to date the time of this alteration, but not the date at which the rock formed. Thus, assigning age significance to a result requires studying the metasomatic and thermal history of the rock, any metamorphic events, and any evidence of fluid movement.
A Rb-Sr date which is at variance with other geochronometers may not be useless, it may be providing data on an event which is not representing the age of formation of the rock. Geochronology[ edit ] The Rb-Sr dating method has been used extensively in dating terrestrial and lunar rocks, and meteorites. The dates indicate the true age of the minerals only if the rocks have not been subsequently altered. Although this is a potential source of error for terrestrial rocks, it is irrelevant for lunar rocks and meteorites, as there are no chemical weathering reactions in those environments.
Because of this, they are selectively removed as different minerals are precipitated from a melt. In the opposite sense, their relative abundance in a melt can indicate the presence of certain residual minerals during partial melting.
Unlike rubidium, which is enriched over strontium in the crust, samarium is relatively enriched with respect to neodymium in the mantle.
Consequently, a volcanic rock composed of melted crust would have elevated radiogenic strontium values and depressed radiogenic neodymium values with respect to the mantle. As a parent—daughter pair, samarium and neodymium are unique in that both have very similar chemical properties, and so loss by diffusion may be reduced.
Their low concentrations in surface waters indicates that changes during low-temperature alteration and weathering are less likely. Their presence in certain minerals in water-deposited gold veins, however, does suggest mobility under certain conditions. In addition, their behaviour under high-temperature metamorphic conditions is as yet poorly documented. The exploitation of the samarium—neodymium pair for dating only became possible when several technical difficulties were overcome.
Procedures to separate these very similar elements and methods of measuring neodymium isotope ratios with uncertainties of only a few parts inhad to be developed. In theory, the samarium—neodymium method is identical to the rubidium—strontium approach.
Both use the isochron method to display and evaluate data.
In the case of samarium—neodymium dating, however, the chemical similarity of parent and daughter adds another complication because fractionation during crystallization is extremely limited. This makes the isochrons short and adds further to the necessity for high precision. With modern analytical methods, however, uncertainties in measured ages have been reduced to 20 million years for the oldest rocks and meteorites. Mineral isochrons provide the best results.
The equation relating present-day neodymium isotopic abundance as the sum of the initial ratios and radiogenic additions is that of a straight line, as discussed earlier for rubidium—strontium.
Other successful examples have been reported where rocks with open rubidium—strontium systems have been shown to have closed samarium—neodymium systems. In other examples, the ages of rocks with insufficient rubidium for dating have been successfully determined.
There is considerable promise for dating garneta common metamorphic mineral, because it is known to concentrate the parent isotope. In general, the use of the samarium—neodymium method as a dating tool is limited by the fact that other methods mainly the uranium—lead approach are more precise and require fewer analyses. In the case of meteorites and lunar rocks where samples are limited and minerals for other dating methods are not available, the samarium—neodymium method can provide the best ages possible.
Rubidium–strontium dating - Wikipedia
Rhenium—osmium method The decay scheme in which rhenium is transformed to osmium shows promise as a means of studying mantle—crust evolution and the evolution of ore deposits. Osmium is strongly concentrated in the mantle and extremely depleted in the crustso that crustal osmium must have exceedingly high radiogenic-to-stable ratios while the mantle values are low.
In fact, crustal levels are so low that they are extremely difficult to measure with current technology. Most work to date has centred around rhenium- or osmium-enriched minerals.
Because rhenium and osmium are both siderophilic having an affinity for iron and chalcophilic having an affinity for sulfurthe greatest potential for this method is in studies concerning the origin and age of sulfide ore deposits.
Potassium—argon methods The radioactive decay scheme involving the breakdown of potassium of mass 40 40K to argon gas of mass 40 40Ar formed the basis of the first widely used isotopic dating method.
Since radiogenic argon was first detected in by the American geophysicist Lyman T.
Nierthe method has evolved into one of the most versatile and widely employed methods available. In fact, potassium decays to both argon and calciumbut, because argon is absent in most minerals while calcium is present, the argon produced is easier to detect and measure. Argon dating involves a different technology from all the other methods so far described, because argon exists as a gas at room temperature.
Thus, it can be purified as it passes down a vacuum line by freezing out or reacting out certain contaminants. Radiocarbon dates are obtained from such things as bones, teeth, charcoal, fossilized wood, and shells. Because of the short half-life of 14C, it is only used to date materials younger than about 70, years.
Other Uses of Isotopes Radioactivity is an important heat source in the Earth. Elements like K, U, Th, and Rb occur in quantities large enough to release a substantial amount of heat through radioactive decay.
Thus radioactive isotopes have potential as fuel for such processes as mountain building, convection in the mantle to drive plate tectonics, and convection in the core to produce the Earth's magnetic Field. Initial isotopic ratios are useful as geochemical tracers.
Such tracers can be used to determine the origin of magmas and the chemical evolution of the Earth. Short-lived isotopes Isotopes made during nucleosynthesis that have nearly completely decayed away can give information on the time elapsed between nucleosynthesis and Earth Formation. Ratios of stable, low mass isotopes, like those of O, S, C, and H can be used as tracers, as well as geothermometers, since fractionation of light isotopes can take place as a result of chemical process.
We can thus use these ratios of light isotopes to shed light on processes and temperatures of past events.
Radioactivity is a source of energy and thus can be exploited for human use - good and bad. Examples of questions on this material that could be asked on an exam Which isotopic systems are most useful for radiometric dating and what are the limitations of each?
What is an isochron and what information can be obtained from an isochron? Why is zircon the preferred mineral for obtainting U - Pb dates?