Radiometric dating of planets

FAQ - Radioactive Age-Dating | Planetary Science Institute

radiometric dating of planets

Absolute age dating determines the "calendar" time at which a rock, surface, Most rocks contain small amounts of radioactive isotopes, such as U, U, the most accurate and desirable way of dating planetary surfaces, but collecting. But Kelvin didn't, and couldn't, know that radioactive atoms such as uranium were breaking down and keeping the planet warmer than it would be otherwise. The age of the Earth is ± billion years ( × years ± 1%). This age may represent the age of the Earth's accretion, of core formation, or of the material from which the Earth formed. This dating is based on evidence from radiometric age-dating of meteorite .. This 50 million year time span allows for accretion of the planets from the.

He created a small globe that resembled Earth in composition and then measured its rate of cooling. This led him to estimate that Earth was about 75, years old.

Other naturalists used these hypotheses to construct a history of Earththough their timelines were inexact as they did not know how long it took to lay down stratigraphic layers. This was a challenge to the traditional view, which saw the history of Earth as static,[ citation needed ] with changes brought about by intermittent catastrophes.

Many naturalists were influenced by Lyell to become "uniformitarians" who believed that changes were constant and uniform. His calculations did not account for heat produced via radioactive decay a process then unknown to science or, more significantly, convection inside the Earth, which allows more heat to escape from the interior to warm rocks near the surface.

For biologists, even million years seemed much too short to be plausible.

  • Radiometric dating

In Darwin's theory of evolutionthe process of random heritable variation with cumulative selection requires great durations of time. According to modern biology, the total evolutionary history from the beginning of life to today has taken place since 3. Huxleyattacked Thomson's calculations, suggesting they appeared precise in themselves but were based on faulty assumptions.

FAQ - Radioactive Age-Dating

The physicist Hermann von Helmholtz in and astronomer Simon Newcomb in contributed their own calculations of 22 and 18 million years respectively to the debate: However, they assumed that the Sun was only glowing from the heat of its gravitational contraction. The process of solar nuclear fusion was not yet known to science. In John Perry challenged Kelvin's figure on the basis of his assumptions on conductivity, and Oliver Heaviside entered the dialogue, considering it "a vehicle to display the ability of his operator method to solve problems of astonishing complexity.

Charles Darwin 's son, the astronomer George H. Darwinproposed that Earth and Moon had broken apart in their early days when they were both molten. He calculated the amount of time it would have taken for tidal friction to give Earth its current hour day. His value of 56 million years added additional evidence that Thomson was on the right track.

Radiometric dating Overview By their chemical nature, rock minerals contain certain elements and not others; but in rocks containing radioactive isotopes, the process of radioactive decay generates exotic elements over time. By measuring the concentration of the stable end product of the decay, coupled with knowledge of the half life and initial concentration of the decaying element, the age of the rock can be calculated.

Convective mantle and radioactivity InThomson had been made Lord Kelvin in appreciation of his many scientific accomplishments. Kelvin calculated the age of the Earth by using thermal gradientsand he arrived at an estimate of about million years. InJohn Perry produced an age-of-Earth estimate of 2 to 3 billion years using a model of a convective mantle and thin crust.

The discovery of radioactivity introduced another factor in the calculation. After Henri Becquerel 's initial discovery inMarie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium in ; and inPierre Curie and Albert Laborde announced that radium produces enough heat to melt its own weight in ice in less than an hour.

Geologists quickly realized that this upset the assumptions underlying most calculations of the age of Earth. These had assumed that the original heat of the Earth and Sun had dissipated steadily into space, but radioactive decay meant that this heat had been continually replenished. George Darwin and John Joly were the first to point this out, in Ernest Rutherford in Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy jointly had continued their work on radioactive materials and concluded that radioactivity was due to a spontaneous transmutation of atomic elements.

In radioactive decay, an element breaks down into another, lighter element, releasing alpha, beta, or gamma radiation in the process. Based on our study of meteorites and rocks from the Moon, as well as modeling the formation of planets, it is believed pretty much well-established that all of the objects in the Solar System formed very quickly about 4.

radiometric dating of planets

When we age date a planet, we are actually just dating the age of the surface, not the whole planet. We can get absolute ages only if we have rocks from that surface. For others, all we are doing is getting a relative age, using things like the formation of craters and other features on a surface. By studying other planets, we are learning more about our own planet.

Age of the Earth

The effects of impacts and how they might affect us here on Earth, global climate change Venus vs. Earth and what could happen to Earth in an extreme case, etc. How do you technically define half-life?

From Wikipedia, radioactive decay is the process in which an unstable atomic nucleus spontaneously loses energy by emitting ionizing particles and radiation.

Age of the Earth - Wikipedia

This decay, or loss of energy, results in an atom element of one type, called the parent nuclide transforming to an atom of a different type another element or another isotope of the same elementnamed the daughter nuclide.

It is impossible to predict when a given atom will decay, but given a large number of similar atoms, the decay rate on average is predictable.

radiometric dating of planets

This predictable decay is called the half-life of the parent atom, the time it takes for one half of all of the parent atoms to transform into the daughter. If carbon is so short-lived in comparison to potassium or uranium, why is it that in terms of the media, we mostly about carbon and rarely the others? The age of the Earth is 4. The material making up these rocks has been part of the Earth for all 4.

The oldest rocks in the Solar System -- the ones which have not been melted since they were first formed -- are the meteorites which fall to Earth from interplanetary space. The meteorites are pieces of the asteroids -- leftover fragments of planetesimals from the era of the formation of the planets. They solidified early in the history of the Solar System and have not melted since.

Radioactive Dating and the Age of the Solar System

Jupiter stirred up the motions of the nearby planetesimals and prevented them from accumulating into a planet. These stirred planetesimals collided at high speed and fragmented. They were unable to stick together and accumulate to form a large planet.