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As the mineral cools, the crystal structure begins to form and diffusion of isotopes is less easy.

At a certain temperature, the crystal structure has formed sufficiently to prevent diffusion of isotopes.

The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay.and is now the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of fossilized life forms or the age of the Earth itself, and can also be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale.Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.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.

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