List of radiometric dating methods
Thus, an atom of carbon-14 (C14), atomic number 6, emits a beta particle and becomes an atom of nitrogen-14 (N14), atomic number 7.A third, very rare type of radioactive decay is called electron absorption.The rules are the same in all cases; the assumptions are different for each method.To explain those rules, I'll need to talk about some basic atomic physics. Hydrogen-1's nucleus consists of only a single proton.The decay rate and therefore the half-life are fixed characteristics of a nuclide. Thats the first axiom of radiometric dating techniques: the half-life of a given nuclide is a constant.(Note that this doesnt mean the half-life of an element is a constant.
Losing or gaining atomic number puts the atom in a different row of the periodic table, and elements in different rows behave in different ways. C14 is radioactive, with a half-life of 5730 years.Some nuclides have very long half-lives, measured in billions or even trillions of years.Others have extremely short half-lives, measured in tenths or hundredths of a second.Some, however, are unstable -- given time, they will spontaneously undergo one of the several kinds of radioactive decay, changing in the process into another element.There are two common kinds of radioactive decay, alpha decay and beta decay.