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The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay.and is now the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of fossilized life forms or the age of the Earth itself, and can also be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.Find additional lessons, activities, videos, and articles that focus on relative and absolute dating.Radiometric dating, radioactive dating or radioisotope dating is a technique which is used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed.Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.Radiometric dating methods are used to establish the geological time scale.Different dating methods may be needed to confirm the age of a sample.

After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide or decay product.

A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will spontaneously change into a different nuclide by radioactive decay.

The decay may happen by emission of particles (usually electrons (beta decay), positrons or alpha particles) or by spontaneous nuclear fission, and electron capture.

Contamination from outside, or the loss of isotopes at any time from the rock's original formation, would change the result.

It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.

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