The original unstable isotope is called the parent isotope, and the more stable form is called the daughter isotope.
Isotopes decay at an exponential rate that that can be described in terms of half-life.
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For example, uranium-lead dating can be used to find the age of a uranium-containing mineral.
It works because we know the fixed radioactive decay rates of uranium-238, which decays to lead-206, and for uranium-235, which decays to lead-207.
In this lab, you will use radiometric dating techniques to calculate the ages of living and dead corals on a seamount.
You will then use this information to determine environmental conditions on the seamount.
The shape of this curve is the same for the radioactive decay of all isotopes.
The amount of actual time in a half-life is unique to each parent/daughter pair, however.
When the isotope is halfway to that point, it has reached its half-life.
There are different methods of radiometric dating that will vary due to the type of material that is being dated.
The methods work because radioactive elements are unstable, and they are always trying to move to a more stable state. This process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation is called radioactive decay.
The thing that makes this decay process so valuable for determining the age of an object is that each radioactive isotope decays at its own fixed rate, which is expressed in terms of its half-life.
So, we start out with two isotopes of uranium that are unstable and radioactive.