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Free 5-day trial Radiometric dating is used to estimate the age of rocks and other objects based on the fixed decay rate of radioactive isotopes.

Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. As we age, our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our gait slows.

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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.

However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around.

Continue Reading The key to an age of a substance is the decay-product ratio.

Radioactive dating is a method of dating rocks and minerals using radioactive isotopes.

This method is useful for igneous and metamorphic rocks, which cannot be dated by the stratigraphic correlation method used for sedimentary rocks. Some do not change with time and form stable isotopes (i.e.

The ratio of the original isotope and its decay product determines how many half-lives have occurred since the sample formed.

A half-life measures the time it takes for one half of a radio isotope's atoms to break down into another element.

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