Which radioactive isotope is used in geological dating

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However, a more powerful tool was the fossilised remains of ancient animals and plants within the rock strata.After Charles Darwin's publication Origin of Species (Darwin himself was also a geologist) in 1859, geologists realised that particular fossils were restricted to particular layers of rock.As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.The probability of a parent atom decaying in a fixed period of time is always the same for all atoms of that type regardless of temperature, pressure, or chemical conditions. The time required for one-half of any original number of parent atoms to decay is the half-life, which is related to the decay constant by a simple mathematical formula.

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By matching similar fossils in different regions throughout the world, correlations were built up over many years.This is the latest version of the time scale, as revised and published in 2012.The basic equation of radiometric dating requires that neither the parent nuclide nor the daughter product can enter or leave the material after its formation.The number of parent atoms originally present is simply the number present now plus the number of daughter atoms formed by the decay, both of which are quantities that can be measured.Samples for dating are selected carefully to avoid those that are altered, contaminated, or disturbed by later heating or chemical events.

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