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Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.
A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide.
Exposure to sunlight or heat releases these charges, effectively "bleaching" the sample and resetting the clock to zero.
The trapped charge accumulates over time at a rate determined by the amount of background radiation at the location where the sample was buried.
Alternatively, if several different minerals can be dated from the same sample and are assumed to be formed by the same event and were in equilibrium with the reservoir when they formed, they should form an isochron. In uranium–lead dating, the concordia diagram is used which also decreases the problem of nuclide loss.
Finally, correlation between different isotopic dating methods may be required to confirm the age of a sample.
The basic equation of radiometric dating requires that neither the parent nuclide nor the daughter product can enter or leave the material after its formation.
The possible confounding effects of contamination of parent and daughter isotopes have to be considered, as do the effects of any loss or gain of such isotopes since the sample was created.
Instead, they are a consequence of background radiation on certain minerals.By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change.Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.Precision is enhanced if measurements are taken on multiple samples from different locations of the rock body.