Radioactive Decay and Absolute Age Determinations

Compiled by Jeff Crabaugh at Carleton College (SERC) and the University of Wyoming

This section provides access to a number of visualizations and supporting material illustrating the concept of radioactive decay and its central role in radiometric dating. Visualizations include cross-linked series of diagrams, static illustrations, and photos.

Browse the complete set of Geoscience Visualization Collections.

How does Radioactive Decay Happen?

Radioactive Decay Interactive Histogram and Animation. (more info) An interactive histogram illustrating radioactive decay allows the user to alter the half-life time of the field of nuclei shown in an accompanying animation.

Dating Rocks. (more info) From the Dynamic Earth at the University of Leeds, a cross-linked series of static diagrams illustrates the underlying principle of radioactive decay, the concept of a decay constant, and isochron plots.

Dating Rocks: Absolute Age Determinations

Radiometric Time Scale. (more info) A brief treatment of the subject of radiometric dating from the USGS using explanatory text, tables, and photos to explain the history of the discipline and the basic concepts.