# Define radioactive dating

As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 79,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more.Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.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.Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, usually based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates.

techniques to precisely measure the age of the eruptions of the Kalkarindji volcanic province where lavas covered an area of more than 2 million square kilometers in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.The radioactive parent elements used to date rocks and minerals are: Radiometric dating using the naturally-occurring radioactive elements is simple in concept even though technically complex.If we know the number of radioactive parent atoms present when a rock formed and the number present now, we can calculate the age of the rock using the decay constant.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.