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He is presently employed in the Space & Atmospheric Sciences Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Radiometric dating--the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements--has been in widespread use for over half a century.
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Although many ocean island basalts (OIBs) are argued to contain a recycled component, their uranium isotopic compositions do not differ from those of the bulk Earth.
Because subducted uranium was probably isotopically unfractionated before full oceanic oxidation, about 600 million years ago, this observation reflects the greater antiquity of OIB sources. MORB samples and AOC composites were provided by K.
It took homo sapiens hundreds of thousands of years on the planet to understand a fundamental, simple-sounding, question: how old is the Earth?
The global distribution of uranium is a notable example. Ernest Rutherford (of the gold foil experiment) first suggested the ratios of uranium and lead could be used to date rocks in 1905. Aston discovered 212 of the 287 naturally occurring isotopes, including lead.Geologists began using this idea to try and measure the ages of old rocks, but at the time, didn’t know that there were different isotopes of each element, each with different decay rates. Thompson(you might know him for discovering the electron and for his plum pudding model) discovered isotopes of neon using a primitive precursor to a mass spectrometer. Geologists like Alfred Nier began measuring the isotopic ratios of old rocks, providing the basis for Patterson’s discoveries. World War II is a fabulous time period to study the relationship between history and science: scientific discoveries like atomic fission affected the course of history, while big projects like the Manhattan Project would change the very way science is done.* Patterson himself was drafted to work on the Manhattan Project; there, he helped develop the high precision mass spectrometers needed to measure abundances of tiny quantities of isotopes to very high precision.In early Earth history, the continental crust was enriched in uranium. Yet after the initial rise in atmospheric oxygen, about 2.4 billion years ago, the aqueous mobility of oxidized uranium resulted in its significant transport to the oceans and, ultimately, by means of subduction, back to the mantle U ratios higher than does the bulk Earth, confirming the widespread pollution of the upper mantle with this recycled uranium.