These differing rates of decay help make uranium-lead dating one of the most reliable methods of radiometric dating because they provide two different decay clocks.This provides a built-in cross-check to more accurately determine the age of the sample.Radiometric dating, or radioactive dating as it is sometimes called, is a method used to date rocks and other objects based on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes.Different methods of radiometric dating can be used to estimate the age of a variety of natural and even man-made materials.For example, how do we know that the Iceman, whose frozen body was chipped out of glacial ice in 1991, is 5,300 years old?Well, we know this because samples of his bones and hair and even his grass boots and leather belongings were subjected to radiocarbon dating.However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around.So, we rely on radiometric dating to calculate their ages.
Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. As we age, our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our gait slows.
When the isotope is halfway to that point, it has reached its half-life.
There are different methods of radiometric dating that will vary due to the type of material that is being dated.
The methods work because radioactive elements are unstable, and they are always trying to move to a more stable state. This process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation is called radioactive decay.
The thing that makes this decay process so valuable for determining the age of an object is that each radioactive isotope decays at its own fixed rate, which is expressed in terms of its half-life.
Uranium is not the only isotope that can be used to date rocks; we do see additional methods of radiometric dating based on the decay of different isotopes.