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Potassium-Argon dating: The element potassium (symbol K) has three nuclides, K39, K40, and K41. K40 can decay in two different ways: it can break down into either calcium or argon.

The ratio of calcium formed to argon formed is fixed and known.

Yet few people know how radiometric dating works or bother to ask what assumptions drive the conclusions. This figure wasn’t established by radiometric dating of the earth itself. Radiohalos shouldn’t exist, according to conventional wisdom!

Though they are very tiny, polonium radiohalos have a huge message that cannot be ignored.

Any argon present in a mineral containing potassium-40 must have been formed as the result of radioactive decay.

F, the fraction of K40 remaining, is equal to the amount of potassium-40 in the sample, divided by the sum of potassium-40 in the sample plus the calculated amount of potassium required to produce the amount of argon found. In spite of the fact that it is a gas, the argon is trapped in the mineral and can't escape.

You will need more slowly decaying isotopes for the older samples.

Here is an example of a successful dating: Submit your calculations from Activity 1, and a screen shot of all samples correctly dates from Activity 2 electronically on Blackboard or bring them to class.

For example, uranium-238 is an isotope of uranium-235, because it has 3 more neutrons in the nucleus.Most people think that radioactive dating has proven the earth is billions of years old.After all, textbooks, media, and museums glibly present ages of millions of years as fact.Therefore the amount of argon formed provides a direct measurement of the amount of potassium-40 present in the specimen when it was originally formed.Because argon is an inert gas, it is not possible that it might have been in the mineral when it was first formed from molten magma.

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