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Rubidiumstrontium datingThe rubidiumstrontium dating method is a radiometric dating technique that geologists use to determine the age of rocks. Development of this process was aided by Fritz Strassmann, who later moved onto discovering nuclear fission with Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner. The utility of the rubidiumstrontium isotope system results from the fact that ^{87}Rb decays to ^{87}Sr. Different minerals in a given geologic setting can have a distinctly different ratio of Strontium87 to Strontium86 (^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr) as a consequence of different ages, original Rb/Sr values and the initial ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr. If these minerals crystallized from the same silicic melt, each mineral had the same initial ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr as the parent melt. However, because Rb substitutes for K in minerals and these minerals have different K/Ca ratios, the minerals will have had different Rb/Sr ratios. During fractional crystallization, Sr tends to be come concentrated in plagioclase, leaving Rb in the liquid phase. Hence, the Rb/Sr ratio in residual magma may increase over time, resulting in rocks with increasing Rb/Sr ratios with increasing differentiation. Highest ratios (10 or higher) occur in pegmatites. Typically, Rb/Sr increases in the order plagioclase, hornblende, Kfeldspar, biotite, muscovite. Therefore, given sufficient time for significant production (ingrowth) of radiogenic ^{87}Sr, measured ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr values will be different in the minerals, increasing in the same order. Additional recommended knowledge
ExampleFor example, consider the case of an igneous rock such as a granite that contains several major Srbearing minerals including plagioclase feldspar, Kfeldspar, hornblende, biotite, and muscovite. Each of these minerals has a different initial rubidium/strontium ratio dependent on their potassium content, the concentration of Rb and K in the melt and the temperature at which the minerals formed. Rubidium substitutes for potassium within the lattice of minerals at a rate proportional to its concentration within the melt. The ideal scenario according to Bowen's reaction series would see a granite melt begin crystallizing a cumulate assemblage of plagioclase and hornblende (ie; tonalite or diorite), which is low in K (and hence Rb) but high in Sr (as this substitutes for Ca), which proportionally enriches the melt in K and Rb. This then causes orthoclase and biotite, both K rich minerals into which Rb can substitute, to precipitate. The resulting RbSr ratios and Rb and Sr abundances of both the whole rocks and their component minerals will be markedly different. This, thus, allows a different rate of radiogenic Sr to evolve in the separate rocks and their component minerals as time progresses. Calculating the AgeThe age of a sample is determined by analysing several minerals within the sample. The Sr87/Sr86 ratio for each sample is plotted against its Rb87/Sr86 ratio on a graph called an isochron. If these form a straight line then the samples are consistent, and the age probably reliable. The slope of the line dictates the age of the sample. Sources of errorRbSr dating relies on correctly measuring the RbSr ratio of a mineral or whole rock sample, plus accurately deriving an accurate ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr ratio for the mineral or whole rock sample. Several preconditions must be satisfied before a RbSr date can be considered as representing the time of emplacement or formation of a rock.
One of the major drawbacks (and, conversely, the most important use) of utilizing Rb and Sr to derive a radiometric date is their relative mobility, especially in hydrothermal fluids. Rb and Sr are relatively mobile alkaline elements and as such are relatively easily moved around by the hot, often carbonated hydrothermal fluids present during metamorphism or magmatism. Conversely, these fluids may metasomatically alter a rock, introducing new Rb and Sr into the rock (generally during potassic alteration or calcic (albitisation) alteration. RbSr can then be used on the altered mineralogy to date the time of this alteration, but not the date at which the rock formed. Thus, assigning age significance to a result requires studying the metasomatic and thermal history of the rock, any metamorphic events, and any evidence of fluid movement. A RbSr date which is at variance with other geochronometers may not be useless, it may be providing data on an event which is not representing the age of formation of the rock. UsesGeochronologyThe RbSr dating method has been used extensively in dating rocks. If the initial amount of Sr is known or can be extrapolated, the age can be determined by measurement of the Rb and Sr concentrations and the ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr ratio. The dates indicate the true age of the minerals only if the rocks have not been subsequently altered. The important concept in isotopic tracing is that Sr derived from any mineral through weathering reactions will have the same ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr as the mineral. Isotope geochemistryInitial ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr ratios are a useful tool in archaeology, forensics and palaeontology because the ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr of a skeleton, sea shell or indeed a clay artefact is directly comparable to the source rocks upon which it was formed or upon which the organism lived. Thus, by measuring the currentday ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr ratio (and often the NdNd ratios as well) the geological fingerprint of an object or skeleton can be measured, allowing migration patterns to be determined. Strontium isotope stratigraphyStrontium isotope stratigraphy relies on recognised variations in the ^{87}Sr/^{86}Sr ratio of seawater over time. The application of Sr isotope stratigraphy is generally limited to carbonate samples for which the Sr seawater curve is well defined. This is wellknown for the Cenozoic timescale but, due to poorer preservation of carbonate sequences in the Mesozoic and earlier, it is not completely understood for older sequences. In older sequences diagenetic alteration combined with greater uncertainties in estimating absolute ages due to lack of overlap between other geochronometers (for example UTh) leads to greater uncertainties in the exact shape of the Sr isotope seawater curve. References
Categories: Radiometric dating  Rubidium  Strontium 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rubidiumstrontium_dating". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia. 