Dating Techniques

  • Vincent Schultz
  • F. Ward Whicker


Early in this century, it was suggested by Rutherford (Dalrymple and Lanphere, 1969) that the decay of primordial radionuclides could be applied to determine the age of rocks and minerals. The primordial radionuclides such as potassium, rubidium, thorium, and uranium are very long-lived; consequently, their application to geological dating must of necessity be restricted to measurement of long time intervals. W. F. Libby suggested that the cosmogenically produced radionuclide 14C be used to date carbonaceous materials for relatively shorter time intervals. For his work on carbon dating, he received the Nobel Prize. Today, the technique of radiodating geological and biological specimens rests on a foundation of extensive research and has been accepted as a powerful tool by archaeologists, geologists, and biologists. The literature in archaeology is extensive, and the reader is referred to the previously cited bibliography by S. L. Schultz and V. Schultz (1975) and to the books of Tite (1972) and Aitken (1974), as well as to those of Michael and Ralph (1971) and Michels (1973), which deal exclusively with dating methods in archaeology. The methods discussed are those that should be familiar to the archaeologist, namely, radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating, fission-track dating, and thermoluminescence dating. Among the references available to the geologist are Hamilton and Farquhar (1968) and York and Farquhar (1972).


Uranium Series Nevada Test Site Primordial Radionuclide Pottery Sample Total Radiation Exposure 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Schultz
    • 1
  • F. Ward Whicker
    • 2
  1. 1.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.Colorado State UniversityFt. CollinsUSA

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