How does potassium dating work

Posted by / 23-Jan-2018 15:18

How does potassium dating work

From potassium 40 to argon 40The electron capture which causes potassium 40 to transform into argon 40 in its ground state takes place in only 0.04% of cases.Far more frequently (10.68% of the time), an indirect capture leads to an excited argon atom which needs to return to its ground state by emitting a gamma ray at an energy of 1.46 Me V.Without this characteristic gamma ray, it would be impossible to detect and identify the decay of potassium 40.

This isotope makes up one ten thousandth of the potassium found naturally.At that moment, the rock contains a certain amount of potassium but no argon.With time and the potassium 40 disintegrations, the gaseous argon atoms accumulate very slowly in the lava where they are trapped.How can potassium 40 simultaneously have too many of both?The answer reveals one of the peculiarities of the nuclear forces.

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The beta electrons leading to calcium, however, are not accompanied by gamma rays, have no characteristic energies and rarely make it out of the rocks or bodies that contain potassium 40.

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