(These are the moving particles measured by Geiger counters and the like.) The end result is a stable atom, but of a different chemical element (not carbon) because the atom now has a different number of protons and electrons.This process of changing one element (designated as the parent isotope) into another element (referred to as the daughter isotope) is called radioactive decay.As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 70,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more.

isotopes frequently used in radiometric dating worksheet-13

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So, in general, few people quarrel with the resulting chemical analyses.

It is the interpretation of these chemical analyses that raises potential problems.

The nucleus contains protons (tiny particles each with a single positive electric charge) and neutrons (particles without any electric charge).

Orbiting around the nucleus are electrons (tiny particles each with a single negative electric charge).

The atoms of each element may vary slightly in the numbers of neutrons within their nuclei.

These variations are called isotopes of that element.The daughter atoms are not lesser in quality than the parent atoms from which they were produced.Both are complete atoms in every sense of the word.Geologists regularly use five parent isotopes to date rocks: uranium-238, uranium-235, potassium-40, rubidium-87, and samarium-147.These parent radioisotopes change into daughter lead-206, lead-207, argon-40, strontium-87, and neodymium-143 isotopes, respectively.Therefore, carbon has three isotopes (variations), which are specified carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14 (Figure 1).