Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Activities > Radioactive Decay and Geochronology

Radioactive Decay and Geochronology


Vassar College
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: May 3, 2006

Summary

Students create a STELLA model of the radioactive decay process. They then learn how the special radioactive series 238U - 206Pb and 237U - 205Pb can be used to determine both the time when a rock initially crystallized and when it underwent a recrystallization, even when the sample being dated was not a closed system.

Learning Goals

The Radioactive Decay exercise has several purposes:

Context for Use

This activity was developed for a class introducing dynamical systems modeling to upper level undergraduate students.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Instructor Notes (Acrobat (PDF) 44kB Apr10 06)

Teaching Materials

radioactive_decay_lab-student_version.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 38kB Jun13 05)
Documented_Isotope_Model.stm ( 25kB Jun13 05)
Documented_UPb_Model.v.1.STM ( 589kB Jun13 05)
Documented_UPb_Model.v.2.stm ( 705kB Jun13 05)
PBLOSS.F90 ( 4kB Jun13 05)
U_series.f90 ( 4kB Jun13 05)
fortran_radioactive_decay.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 8kB Jun13 05)

Assessment

Radioactive_Decay_Lab-Answer_Key.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 213kB Jun13 05)
assignment_assessment_2.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 5kB Jun13 05)

References and Resources

The following are readings for this activity:

Contact the Author

Please contact the author with questions or suggestions.

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Geology:Geochemistry:Radioisotopes
Resource Type: Computer Applications, Activities:Lab Activity
Special Interest: Computer-Based, Quantitative
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Quantitative Skills: Models and Modeling
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Topics: Time/Earth History, Solid Earth:Geochemistry:Radioisotopes

See more Activities »