Mass spectrometers are made up of an ion generator, analyzer, and several detectors.The sample is ionized using the ionic generator and then passed through a magnetic field that separates the samples into different groups based on their mass and ionization levels.Other dating techniques, like K-Ar (potassium-argon and its more recent variant 40Ar/39Ar), Rb-Sr (rubidium-strontium), Sm-Nd (samarium-neodynium), Lu-Hf (lutetium-hafnium), and U-Pb (uranium-lead and its variant Pb-Pb), have all stood the test of time.These methods provide valuable and valid age data in most instances, although there is a small percentage of cases in which even these generally reliable methods yield incorrect results.
When an isotope decays, it often becomes a different kind of element altogether.
While not all objects have the same isotopes, both living and nonliving objects have some sort of decaying, radioactive isotope that can be used based on known decay rates. An isotope of some sort is located and isolated within an object.
That isotope is then compared to its decaying product and scientists are able to use known decay rates to determine how old the initial isotope is.
In fact, radiometric dating can be used to determine the age of the Earth, (5.54 billion years old) other planets, and celestial objects.
Radiometric dating is often referred to as “radioactive dating” and “carbon dating,” though many different types of isotopes can be used to identify an object’s age.
Modern Radiometric Dating Techniques Modern radiometric dating uses many different techniques to identify both organic and inorganic objects.