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Dating the geologic past lab

Refer to the Lab Assnments Grading Rubric for a reminder of what constitutes a well-performed lab. An isotope system is assumed to be a closed system with regard to the parent and daughter - they remain within the system and do not leave it, and at the same time no isotopes of the parent or daughter type enter the system from outside. (In reality, rocks, minerals and other geologic materials can be checked to see if the isotope system remained closed, rather than assuming so.) At time zero, 100% of the isotopes are the parent isotopes.

Dating the geologic past lab

Dating the geologic past lab

By the definition of a half-life, the amount of parent isotope at each half-life is half of what it was before the half-life elapsed. As the amount of parent isotope decreases by radioactive decay, the amount of the daughter isotope increases commensurately.

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  • Therefore, at any time, the total of parent isotope fraction and daughter isotope fraction add up to 1.


    Dating the geologic past lab

    Dating the geologic past lab

    Dating the geologic past lab

    Similarly, the percentage of parent isotope percentage and daughter isotope percentage add up to 100 at all times. The table below tracks the decay, half-life by half-life, of a radioactive isotope, and the accumulation of the daughter product isotope that the parent changes into once it decays. There are several different radioactive isotope systems that are used for measuring ages of geologic materials.

    Dating the geologic past lab

    For more information on these systems, see the isotopes and half-lives section of the Geologic Time Basics page. DIGGY SIMMONS DATING ZONNIQUE There is a definite mathematical relationship between the ratio of the amount of daughter product isotope to the amount of radioactive parent isotope, and the number of half-lives that have elapsed.


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