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On the upper left branch of this reaction series, olivine, the first mineral to form, Ml] react with the remaining melt to become pyroxene.This reaction will continue until the last mineral in the series, biotite mica, is formed.This left branch is called a discontinuous reaction series because each mineral has a different crystalline structure.Recall that olivine is composed of a single tetrahedra and that the other minerals in this sequence are composed of single chains, double chains, and sheet structures, respectively.The general idea is that many different minerals are formed, which differ from one another in composition, even though they come from the same magma.The mineral makeup of an igneous rock is ultimately determined by the chemical composition of the magma from which it crystallized.Most scientists today believe that life has existed on the earth for billions of years.
This calls the whole radiometric dating scheme into serious question.These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock and inferring an age based on this ratio.This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance (say, uranium) gradually decays to the daughter substance (say, lead), so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.As the crystallization process continues, the composition of the melt (liquid portion of a magma, excluding any solid material continually changes.For example, at the stage when about 50 percent of the magma has solidified, the melt will be greatly depleted in iron, magnesium, and calcium, because these elements are found in the earliest formed minerals.
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Bowen also demonstrated that if a mineral remained in the melt after it had crystallized, it would react with the remaining melt and produce the next mineral in the sequence shown in Figure 3.6.