How is radioactive dating used to determine the age of a fossil

Radioactive Decay
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Origin of Cells 6.

The Blood System 3. Homeostasis Higher Level 7: Sexual Reproduction Options A: Radioactive Dating One of the most commonly used methods for determining the age of fossils is via radioactive dating a.

Alpha decay — Atom releases two protons and two neutrons alpha particle to form a new, more stable element Beta decay — A neutron decays to produce a proton, electron and anti-neutrino electron is released and a new element forms Gamma decay — Involves the release of electromagnetic radiation gamma rays , but does not change the mass of the atom Alpha radiation can be stopped by paper, beta radiation can be stopped by wood, while gamma radiation is stopped by lead Types of Radioactive Decay.

Carbon, or radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope that forms when cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere strike nitrogen molecules, which then oxidize to become carbon dioxide. Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.


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Carbon is also passed onto the animals that eat those plants. After death the amount of carbon in the organic specimen decreases very regularly as the molecules decay. Samples from the past 70, years made of wood, charcoal, peat, bone, antler or one of many other carbonates may be dated using this technique.

How Carbon Dating Works

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