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“The rate of diffusion will vary, based on the sample – what type of rock it is, the number of cracks and amount of surface area, and so on,” Hayes says.
“So, there’s not a simple equation that can be applied to every circumstance.
This function is able to tell researchers how old a sample is. But there’s a wrinkle in the process that has been overlooked.
The ratios of strontium-86 to rubidium and strontium-87 are thought to only be influenced by the radioactive decay of the rubidium-87 into strontium-87.
By taking into consideration the isotope effect (differential mass diffusion rates) when measuring isotopic ratios from very old samples, the distribution dependency in the coefficient ratios will cause a bias if isotopic diffusion rates are not identical throughout a sample.
The isotope effect being that isotopes having a smaller atomic mass will diffuse faster throughout a medium than will their heavier counterparts causing concentration gradients of their ratios even when there are no contributions from radioactive decay.
They were not intended to stand alone as arguments by themselves.
However this web site ( convinced me that they could be useful as a reference tool, especially for those who attend the lectures, and I agreed.
But that model doesn’t account for differential mass diffusion – the tendency of different atoms to diffuse though a material at different rates.Radioactive elements, such as rubidium-87 (but not strontium-86 or strontium-87), decay over time.By evaluating the concentrations of all of these isotopes in a rock sample, scientists can determine what its original make-up of strontium and rubidium were.“If we don’t account for differential mass diffusion, we really have no idea how accurate a radioisotope date actually is.It’s worth noting that the issues raised here do not apply to carbon dating, which does not utilize isotopic ratios.” The paper, “Some mathematical and geophysical considerations in radioisotope dating applications,” is published in the journal .