Carbon 14 dating volcanic rock

Posted by / 18-Nov-2020 08:03

Unfortunately, before that can be done, we need to know the history of the rock.

The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements.It is based on the fact that potassium-40 (an isotope or ‘variety’ of the element potassium) spontaneously ‘decays’ into argon-40 (an isotope of the element argon).2 This process proceeds very slowly at a known rate, having a half-life for potassium-40 of 1.3 billion years.1 In other words, 1.0 g of potassium-40 would, in 1.3 billion years, theoretically decay to the point that only 0.5 g was left.Contrary to what is generally believed, it is not just a matter of measuring the amount of potassium-40 and argon-40 in a volcanic rock sample of unknown age, and calculating a date.Actually, the present lava dome at Mount St Helens is the third dome to form since the 1980 eruption, the previous two having been blasted away by the subsequent eruptions.The current dome started growing after the volcano’s last explosive eruption on 17 October 1980.

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It was one of those experiences that was well worth every exhausting moment!