How is radioactive dating used
rely heavily on the uranium/thorium/lead radiometric dating methods.Because it is not generally appreciated that the assumptions on which the radiometric estimates are based are a virtually impossible sequence of events, let us refresh our minds on the fundamentals of the method by turning to the hourglass analogy (Fig. This system of measuring time works well providing that: Since radioactive decay constants are believed to be unalterable, the requirement of an absolutely reproducible rate is hopefully met.That difficulty aside, they were selected because they contain very little uranium and thorium and are therefore unlikely to contain significant radiogenic lead.However, it is even more surprising to learn that the lead isotope ratios chosen by Patterson Most meteorites have lead isotope ratios similar to those of present day common lead.Up until 1972 these could be explained as being contaminated with radiogenic lead from uranium and thorium decay.In 1972, however, Gale showed unequivocally that there is by no means sufficient uranium and thorium to account for what could previously have been called radiogenic lead.
Since meteorites have not proved to be the ancient objects from the sky that one might imagine, it is surprising that they should be assumed to give the primordial lead composition on Earth.The radiometric dating method is basically an extrapolation of the form shown in Fig. If the decay constant is known with great accuracy, an extrapolation over one or two thousand years may be regarded as quite reasonable. It should be obvious that the further one projects present rates, the more likely one is to be quite wrong. era started about 1955 with the publication of a classic paper by Patterson In spite of cautions and scepticism advised by the authors this number has been widely and enthusiastically accepted and is usually quoted as if the evidence was decisive and conclusive. Lead-206 and lead-207 are known daughter products from the decay of uranium-238 and uranium-235, respectively.