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Potassium-Argon Dating Potassium-Argon dating is the only viable technique for dating very old archaeological materials. Geologists have used this method to date rocks as much as 4 billion years old. It is based on the fact that some of the radioactive isotope of Potassium, Potassium K ,decays to the gas Argon as Argon Ar By comparing the proportion of K to Ar in a sample of volcanic rock, and knowing the decay rate of K, the date that the rock formed can be determined. How Does the Reaction Work? Potassium K is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust 2. One out of every 10, Potassium atoms is radioactive Potassium K

## Potassium-argon dating

The potassium-argon K-Ar dating method is probably the most widely used technique for determining the absolute ages of crustal geologic events and processes. It is used to determine the ages of formation and thermal histories of potassium-bearing rocks and minerals of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary origin, as well as extraterrestrial meteorites and lunar rocks.

The K-Ar method is among the oldest of the geochronological methods; it successfully produces reliable absolute ages of geologic materials.

But micas, plagioclase, hornblende, clays, and other minerals can yield good data, as can whole-rock analyses. Young rocks have low levels of.

Potassium-argon dating , method of determining the time of origin of rocks by measuring the ratio of radioactive argon to radioactive potassium in the rock. This dating method is based upon the decay of radioactive potassium to radioactive argon in minerals and rocks; potassium also decays to calcium Thus, the ratio of argon and potassium and radiogenic calcium to potassium in a mineral or rock is a measure of the age of the sample.

The calcium-potassium age method is seldom used, however, because of the great abundance of nonradiogenic calcium in minerals or rocks, which masks the presence of radiogenic calcium. On the other hand, the abundance of argon in the Earth is relatively small because of its escape to the atmosphere during processes associated with volcanism. The potassium-argon dating method has been used to measure a wide variety of ages. The potassium-argon age of some meteorites is as old as 4,,, years, and volcanic rocks as young as 20, years old have been measured by this method.

Potassium-argon dating. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica’s editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History.

## Potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating

The purpose of this noble gas investigation was to evaluate the possibility of measuring noble gases in martian rocks and air by future robotic missions such as the Mars Science Laboratory MSL. Here we suggest the possibility of K-Ar age dating based on noble gas release of martian rocks by conducting laboratory simulation experiments on terrestrial basalts and martian meteorites.

We provide requirements for the SAM instrument to obtain adequate noble gas abundances and compositions within the current SAM instrumental operating conditions, especially, a power limit that prevents heating the furnace above approx. In addition, Martian meteorite analyses from NASA-JSC will be used as ground truth to evaluate the feasibility of robotic experiments to constrain the ages of martian surface rocks.

K-Ar dating of young volcanic rocks.

Argon retention is not related to the size of the plagioclase feldspar laths but to the degree of alteration of the groundmass. Electron probe measurements show.

Most of the chronometric dating methods in use today are radiometric. That is to say, they are based on knowledge of the rate at which certain radioactive isotopes within dating samples decay or the rate of other cumulative changes in atoms resulting from radioactivity. Isotopes are specific forms of elements.

The various isotopes of the same element differ in terms of atomic mass but have the same atomic number. In other words, they differ in the number of neutrons in their nuclei but have the same number of protons. The spontaneous decay of radioactive elements occurs at different rates, depending on the specific isotope. These rates are stated in terms of half-lives. In other words, the change in numbers of atoms follows a geometric scale as illustrated by the graph below.

The decay of atomic nuclei provides us with a reliable clock that is unaffected by normal forces in nature. The rate will not be changed by intense heat, cold, pressure, or moisture. Radiocarbon Dating. The most commonly used radiometric dating method is radiocarbon dating. It is also called carbon and C dating.

## Potassium-Argon Dating Methods

The potassium-argon K-Ar isotopic dating method is especially useful for determining the age of lavas. Developed in the s, it was important in developing the theory of plate tectonics and in calibrating the geologic time scale. Potassium occurs in two stable isotopes 41 K and 39 K and one radioactive isotope 40 K.

Potassium decays with a half-life of million years, meaning that half of the 40 K atoms are gone after that span of time. Its decay yields argon and calcium in a ratio of 11 to The K-Ar method works by counting these radiogenic 40 Ar atoms trapped inside minerals.

Isotopes of Potassium and Argon But, for the purposes of the KAr dating system, the relative abundance of 40K is so small This is done using the constant 40Ar/36Ar ratio of atmospheric Argon.

Potassium, an alkali metal, the Earth’s eighth most abundant element is common in many rocks and rock-forming minerals. The quantity of potassium in a rock or mineral is variable proportional to the amount of silica present. Therefore, mafic rocks and minerals often contain less potassium than an equal amount of silicic rock or mineral.

Potassium can be mobilized into or out of a rock or mineral through alteration processes. Due to the relatively heavy atomic weight of potassium, insignificant fractionation of the different potassium isotopes occurs. However, the 40 K isotope is radioactive and therefore will be reduced in quantity over time. But, for the purposes of the KAr dating system, the relative abundance of 40 K is so small and its half-life is so long that its ratios with the other Potassium isotopes are considered constant.

Argon, a noble gas, constitutes approximately 0. Because it is present within the atmosphere, every rock and mineral will have some quantity of Argon. Argon can mobilized into or out of a rock or mineral through alteration and thermal processes.

## Potassium-argon dating method

Radiometric dating of rocks and minerals using naturally occurring, long-lived radioactive isotopes is troublesome for young-earth creationists because the techniques have provided overwhelming evidence of the antiquity of the earth and life. Some so-called creation scientists have attempted to show that radiometric dating does not work on theoretical grounds for example, Arndts and Overn ; Gill but such attempts invariably have fatal flaws see Dalrymple ; York and Dalrymple Other creationists have focused on instances in which radiometric dating seems to yield incorrect results.

In most instances, these efforts are flawed because the authors have misunderstood or misrepresented the data they attempt to analyze for example, Woodmorappe ; Morris HM ; Morris JD Only rarely does a creationist actually find an incorrect radiometric result Austin ; Rugg and Austin that has not already been revealed and discussed in the scientific literature. The creationist approach of focusing on examples where radiometric dating yields incorrect results is a curious one for two reasons.

Potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating. It k-ar based on the argon that some of the radioactive isotope of Potassium, Potassium K,decays to the gas Argon as Argon Ar.

Miller, A. A study of the argon retaining properties of whole rock samples of Whin Sill dolerite has been made. Argon retention is not related to the size of the plagioclase feldspar laths but to the degree of alteration of the groundmass. Electron probe measurements show the main potassium bearing minerals to be located in the fine grained groundmass.

Age determinations made on the least altered samples of dolerite gave an Upper Carboniferous age for the intrusion. Bassett W. Kerr P. Curtis G. Lipson J.

## Potassium-Argon Dating

Although researchers have determined the ages of rocks from other planetary bodies, the actual experiments — like analyzing meteorites and moon rocks — have always been done on Earth. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock — with experiments performed on Mars. The work, led by geochemist Ken Farley of the California Institute of Technology Caltech , could not only help in understanding the geologic history of Mars but also aid in the search for evidence of ancient life on the planet.

However, shortly before the rover left Earth in , NASA’s participating scientist program asked researchers from all over the world to submit new ideas for experiments that could be performed with the MSL’s already-designed instruments.

Argonargon dating Wikis nbspnbsp Note Many of extraneous argon. Potassium unless some important in only a rock, so any parent is therefore essential to neutrons produces a Closure of Ystad, Sweden were done on KAr method.

Potassium-Argon radiometric dating is used to establish dates of lava flows. The reality of water running through any sample on earth is a strong problem for any reliance on this dating method. Running water dilutes potassium levels rapidly which equates to artificially older dates on specimens. This equates to this dating method becoming invalid because running water is abundant and may occur anywhere on earth or in the unobserved past.

Ask any farmer and they can tell you about the loss of potassium in soil because each year they have to drop fertilizer on their crops. Dating methods that rely on a decay rate between parent and daughter with potassium are rendered invalid. Other potassium-argon dating errors. We know the true ages of flows observed to form less than 50 years ago. If the method fails on rocks when we have an independent eye-witness account, then why should we trust it on other rocks where there are no independent historical cross-checks?

Argon gas, brought up from deep inside the earth within the molten rock, was already present in the lavas when they cooled. We know the true ages of the rocks because they were observed to form less than 50 years ago. The K—Ar potassium-argon dating method is not usually used to date by radiometric methods fossils because these specimens rarely contain suitable radioactive elements.

This is commonly done using the K—Ar method.

## Dating Rocks and Fossils Using Geologic Methods

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Over the past 60 years, potassium-argon dating has been extremely But given that argon is a noble gas (i.e. it does not bond to any other Imagine that before you performed a ‘stepwise beating’ of your dusty rug, a gentle.

Originally, fossils only provided us with relative ages because, although early paleontologists understood biological succession, they did not know the absolute ages of the different organisms. It was only in the early part of the 20th century, when isotopic dating methods were first applied, that it became possible to discover the absolute ages of the rocks containing fossils.

In most cases, we cannot use isotopic techniques to directly date fossils or the sedimentary rocks in which they are found, but we can constrain their ages by dating igneous rocks that cut across sedimentary rocks, or volcanic ash layers that lie within sedimentary layers. Isotopic dating of rocks, or the minerals within them, is based upon the fact that we know the decay rates of certain unstable isotopes of elements, and that these decay rates have been constant throughout geological time.

It is also based on the premise that when the atoms of an element decay within a mineral or a rock, they remain trapped in the mineral or rock, and do not escape. It has a half-life of 1. In order to use the K-Ar dating technique, we need to have an igneous or metamorphic rock that includes a potassium-bearing mineral. One good example is granite, which contains the mineral potassium feldspar Figure Potassium feldspar does not contain any argon when it forms.

Over time, the 40 K in the feldspar decays to 40 Ar. The atoms of 40 Ar remain embedded within the crystal, unless the rock is subjected to high temperatures after it forms. The sample must be analyzed using a very sensitive mass-spectrometer, which can detect the differences between the masses of atoms, and can therefore distinguish between 40 K and the much more abundant 39 K.

## 19.4 Isotopic Dating Methods

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Potassium-argon K-Ar dating.

The K-Ar dating method depends on the decay of natural 4°K in rocks to 40Ar and the meter, As the volume of radiogenic 40Ar is only of the order of cc at. S.T.P. The age calculation is performed using a FORTRAN program on a.

Potassium-Argon dating has the advantage that the argon is an inert gas that does not react chemically and would not be expected to be included in the solidification of a rock, so any found inside a rock is very likely the result of radioactive decay of potassium. Since the argon will escape if the rock is melted, the dates obtained are to the last molten time for the rock.

Since potassium is a constituent of many common minerals and occurs with a tiny fraction of radioactive potassium, it finds wide application in the dating of mineral deposits. The feldspars are the most abundant minerals on the Earth, and potassium is a constituent of orthoclase , one common form of feldspar. Potassium occurs naturally as three isotopes.

The radioactive potassium decays by two modes, by beta decay to 40 Ca and by electron capture to 40 Ar. There is also a tiny fraction of the decay to 40 Ar that occurs by positron emission. The calcium pathway is not often used for dating since there is such an abundance of calcium in minerals, but there are some special cases where it is useful. The decay constant for the decay to 40 Ar is 5. Even though the decay of 40 K is somewhat complex with the decay to 40 Ca and three pathways to 40 Ar, Dalrymple and Lanphere point out that potassium-argon dating was being used to address significant geological problems by the mid ‘s.

The energy-level diagram below is based on data accumulated by McDougall and Harrison. For a radioactive decay which produces a single final product, the decay time can be calculated from the amounts of the parent and daughter product by.

## Dating dinosaurs and other fossils

For more than three decades potassium-argon K-Ar and argon-argon Ar-Ar dating of rocks has been crucial in underpinning the billions of years for Earth history claimed by evolutionists. Dalrymple argues strongly:. Hualalai basalt, Hawaii AD 1. Etna basalt, Sicily BC 0. Etna basalt, Sicily AD 0. Lassen plagioclase, California AD 0.

This work could not only help in understanding the geologic history of Mars One technique, potassium-argon dating, determines the age of a.

Most people envision radiometric dating by analogy to sand grains in an hourglass: the grains fall at a known rate, so that the ratio of grains between top and bottom is always proportional to the time elapsed. In principle, the potassium-argon K-Ar decay system is no different. Of the naturally occurring isotopes of potassium, 40K is radioactive and decays into 40Ar at a precisely known rate, so that the ratio of 40K to 40Ar in minerals is always proportional to the time elapsed since the mineral formed [ Note: 40K is a potassium atom with an atomic mass of 40 units; 40Ar is an argon atom with an atomic mass of 40 units].

In theory, therefore, we can estimate the age of the mineral simply by measuring the relative abundances of each isotope. Over the past 60 years, potassium-argon dating has been extremely successful, particularly in dating the ocean floor and volcanic eruptions. K-Ar ages increase away from spreading ridges, just as we might expect, and recent volcanic eruptions yield very young dates, while older volcanic rocks yield very old dates.

Though we know that K-Ar dating works and is generally quite accurate, however, the method does have several limitations. First of all, the dating technique assumes that upon cooling, potassium-bearing minerals contain a very tiny amount of argon an amount equal to that in the atmosphere. While this assumption holds true in the vast majority of cases, excess argon can occasionally be trapped in the mineral when it crystallizes, causing the K-Ar model age to be a few hundred thousand to a few million years older than the actual cooling age.

Secondly , K-Ar dating assumes that very little or no argon or potassium was lost from the mineral since it formed. But given that argon is a noble gas i. Finally —and perhaps most importantly—the K-Ar dating method assumes that we can accurately measure the ratio between 40K and 40Ar. I emphasize this assumption, because it is so commonly overlooked by those unfamiliar with radiometric dating!