Natural Sciences >> Geology

Potassium-Argon Radiometric Dating

by Blake Roux


Submitted : Fall 2014

Radiometric dating provides science with a powerful tool that uses radioactivity as a measure of the age of geologic formations. The study of the relationship between isotopes and decay rates produces applicable calculations to determine the probable age of a mineral or rock sample. An example of a radiometric decay technique is the Potassium-Argon method. This method determines the mineral’s geological time scale by measurements of potassium and argon within a rock sample.

An igneous rock sample found in Damascus, Virginia along the Blue Ridge Mountains contains several grains of the mineral potassium feldspar. To determine the apparent age of each mineral and the probable age of the rock sample requires an appropriate mathematical equation. The mathematical expression that relates radioactive decay to geologic time is called the age equation. This equation implements the Potassium-Argon method through the use of specific decay constant and is effective to determine the age of the three minerals identified within the rock specimen and the geological age of the rock sample.



[ Back ]

Advisors :
Arcadii Grinshpan, Mathematics and Statistics
Zachary Atlas, Geology
Suggested By :
James Wilson