Simple definition of radiometric dating

In other words there was originally 4 parts per million Parentium-123 and 0 parts per million Daughterium-123.

Since there is now only 1/4 of the original amount of Parentium-123, we know that two half-lives of Parentium-123 have elapsed.

Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type.

When ‘parent’ uranium-238 decays, for example, it produces subatomic particles, energy and ‘daughter’ lead-206.

Isotopes are important to geologists because each radioactive element decays at a constant rate, which is unique to that element.

We could be sure that a mineral containing parentium originally had no daughterium.

If the mineral contained 1 part per million Parentium-123 and 3 parts per million Daughterium-123, we could be sure all the Daughterium-123 was originally Parentium-123.

This decay is an example of an exponential decay, shown in the figure below.

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