Radioactive Decay and Absolute Age Determinations

Compiled by Jeff Crabaugh at Carleton College (more info) (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. ( This site may be offline. ) 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.