Uses of mass spectrometry in radioactive dating

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Based on our study of meteorites and rocks from the Moon, as well as modeling the formation of planets, it is believed (pretty much well-established) that all of the objects in the Solar System formed very quickly about 4.56 billion years ago.When we age date a planet, we are actually just dating the age of the surface, not the whole planet.The mass spectrometer is able to give information about the type and amount of isotopes found in the rock.

Note that this half-life can be obtained from the graph at the point where the decay and growth curves cross.We can get absolute ages only if we have rocks from that surface.For others, all we are doing is getting a relative age, using things like the formation of craters and other features on a surface.Many rocks and organisms contain radioactive isotopes, such as U-235 and C-14.These radioactive isotopes are unstable, decaying over time at a predictable rate.

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