Ages of the Solar System: Isotopic Dating
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The major concern of this section will be to outline the ways in which measurements of isotope abundances have been used to determine the chronology of the origin and evolution of the solar system. In passing it should be remembered that the use of isotopic information is by no means restricted simply to the measurement of time scales and, particularly in recent years, isotope abundances have been used to investigate problems as diverse as the heat sources in the early solar nebula and the chemical evolution of the Earth’s mantle. The fundamental property of isotopes which makes them especially useful for dating and other applications is the fact that, apart from a limited amount of mass fractionation, the composition of an isotopic mixture is unaffected by chemical processes. In those cases where mass fractionation does occur this effect may itself be useful, particularly as a source of information on temperatures. Since our main theme is time the events discussed in this section will be most conveniently presented as a chronological sequence, progressing from some time before the solar system existed down to the present day.
KeywordsSolar System Solar Nebula Carbonaceous Chondrite Lunar Planet Early Solar System
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