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It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.

Precision is enhanced if measurements are taken on multiple samples from different locations of the rock body.

Most previous work has centred on the use of the Rb–Sr and K–Ar schemes for age determinations on separated glauconites, illites and mixed-layer illite–smectites.

doi: 10.1002/9781444304336.ch12The principles underlying the application of radiometric dating methods to determining the timing of clay-mineral cementation in sandstones are reviewed.

The basic equation of radiometric dating requires that neither the parent nuclide nor the daughter product can enter or leave the material after its formation.

The possible confounding effects of contamination of parent and daughter isotopes have to be considered, as do the effects of any loss or gain of such isotopes since the sample was created.

While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is unpredictable, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life, usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques.

In these cases, usually the half-life of interest in radiometric dating is the longest one in the chain, which is the rate-limiting factor in the ultimate transformation of the radioactive nuclide into its stable daughter.

Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale.

Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium–argon dating and uranium–lead dating.

This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay (emission of alpha particles) and beta decay (electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture).

Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.

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