Potassium argon and argon argon dating

It is based on the fact that some of the radioactive isotope of Potassium, Potassium-40 (K-40) ,decays to the gas Argon as Argon-40 (Ar-40).

By comparing the proportion of K-40 to Ar-40 in a sample of volcanic rock, and knowing the decay rate of K-40, the date that the rock formed can be determined.

With 18 protons and 22 neutrons, the atom has become Argon-40 (Ar-40), an inert gas.

For every 100 K-40 atoms that decay, 11 become Ar-40.

is known to cause grave problems in regional geochronology studies.

For example, in the Middle Proterozoic Musgrave Block (northern South Australia), a wide scatter of K-Ar mineral "ages" was found, ranging from 343Ma to 4493Ma due to inherited (excess) , permitting inclusion of the gas in the crystallizing minerals.

When muscovite (a common mineral in crustal rocks) is heated to 740°-860°C under high Ar pressures for periods of 3 to 10.5 hours it absorbs significant quantities of Ar, producing K-Ar "ages" of up to 5 billion years, and the absorbed Ar is indistinguishable from radiogenic argon ( In other experiments muscovite was synthesized from a colloidal gel under similar temperatures and Ar pressures, the resultant muscovite retaining up to 0.5 wt% Ar at 640°C and a vapor pressure of 4,000 atmospheres.

This is approximately 2,500 times as much Ar as is found in natural muscovite.

K-Ar Decay Profile Clicking on the "Show Movie" button below will bring up an animation that illustrates how a K-Ar sample is processed and the calculations involved in arriving at a date.

Potassium (K) is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth's crust (2.4% by mass).

One out of every 10,000 Potassium atoms is radioactive Potassium-40 (K-40).

K since their formation, or if some or all of it came from the mantle or from other crustal rocks and minerals.

Thus all K-Ar and Ar-Ar "dates" of crustal rocks are questionable, as well as fossil "dates" calibrated by them.

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Potassium-Argon Dating Potassium-Argon dating is the only viable technique for dating very old archaeological materials.

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