Radiometric dating is often referred to as “radioactive dating” and “carbon dating,” though many different types of isotopes can be used to identify an object’s age.While not all objects have the same isotopes, both living and nonliving objects have some sort of decaying, radioactive isotope that can be used based on known decay rates. An isotope of some sort is located and isolated within an object.Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.It cannot be used to date volcanic rocks, for example.However, its main use to date has been to determine the age of fossils and other dead organic material.
Modern Radiometric Dating Techniques Modern radiometric dating uses many different techniques to identify both organic and inorganic objects.
When an isotope decays, it often becomes a different kind of element altogether.
Because this new element (decay product) remains on or within the object, scientists can easily determine how old the object is. A mass spectrometer is a fundamental device in any radiometric dating experiment.
By using Carbon-14 tests, scientists can calculate how long it has been since the organism died.
Advantages and Disadvantages Radiometric dating has several important advantages and disadvantages, but is the only practical method scientists currently have for dating objects.
One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.