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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 fact, this form of dating has been used to date the age of rocks brought back to Earth from the moon.So, we see there are a number of different methods for dating rocks and other non-living things, but what if our sample is organic in nature?These differing rates of decay help make uranium-lead dating one of the most reliable methods of radiometric dating because they provide two different decay clocks.This provides a built-in cross-check to more accurately determine the age of the sample.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.
Different methods of radiometric dating can be used to estimate the age of a variety of natural and even man-made materials.
So, we start out with two isotopes of uranium that are unstable and radioactive.
They release radiation until they eventually become stable isotopes of lead.
The existing carbon-14 within the organism starts to decay back into nitrogen, and this starts our clock for radiocarbon dating.
A scientist can take a sample of an organic material when it is discovered and evaluate the proportion of carbon-14 left in the relic to determine its age. Radiometric dating is a method used to date rocks and other objects based on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes.