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Potassium-argon dating | ibohyhozeq.tk
The study online flashcards and muscle cells. Offers repair or radioactive dating methods, such as dinosaurs. Argon, on the other hand, is an inert gas; it cannot combine chemically with anything. As a result under most circumstances we don't expect to find much argon in igneous rocks just after they've formed. However, see the section below on the limitations of the method. This suggests an obvious method of dating igneous rocks.
If we are right in thinking that there was no argon in the rock originally, then all the argon in it now must have been produced by the decay of 40 K. So all we'd have to do is measure the amount of 40 K and 40 Ar in the rock, and since we know the decay rate of 40 K, we can calculate how long ago the rock was formed. From the equation describing radioactive decay , we can derive the following equation:.
There are a number of problems with the method. One is that if the rocks are recent, the amount of 40 Ar in them will be so small that it is below the ability of our instruments to measure, and a rock formed yesterday will look no different from a rock formed fifty thousand years ago.
The severity of this problem decreases as the accuracy of our instruments increases. Still, as a general rule, the proportional error in K-Ar dating will be greatest in the youngest rocks. A second problem is that for technical reasons, the measurement of argon and the measurement of potassium have to be made on two different samples, because each measurement requires the destruction of the sample. If the mineral composition of the two sample is different, so that the sample for measuring the potassium is richer or poorer in potassium than the sample used for measuring the argon, then this will be a source of error.
Another concern with K-Ar dating is that it relies on there being no 40 Ar in the rock when it was originally formed, or added to it between its formation and our application of the K-Ar method.
Potassium argon dating limitations
Because argon is inert, it cannot be chemically incorporated in the minerals when they are formed, but it can be physically trapped in the rocks either during or after formation. Such argon is known as excess argon.
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- Potassium-argon dating?
If the source of this argon is atmospheric contamination, then we can correct for this. The reasoning is as follows: There is times as much 40 Ar as 36 Ar in the atmosphere, and there is no reason why an atom of 40 Ar should be preferentially incorporated into rocks rather than an atom of 36 Ar, or vice versa.
So this means that for every atom of 36 Ar we find in our sample, we can discount atoms of 40 Ar as being atmospheric argon.