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In general, the half-life of a nuclide depends solely on its nuclear properties; it is not affected by external factors such as temperature, pressure, chemical environment, or presence of a magnetic or electric field.
(For some nuclides which decay by the process of electron capture, such as Beryllium-7, Strontium-85, and Zirconium-89, the decay rate may be slightly affected by local electron density, therefore these isotopes may not be as suitable for radiometric dating.) But in general, the half-life of any nuclide is essentially a constant.
Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a technique used to date materials, usually based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates.
If a material that selectively rejects the daughter nuclide is heated, any daughter nuclides that have been accumulated over time will be lost through diffusion, setting the isotopic "clock" to zero.
The temperature at which this happens is known as the closure temperature or blocking temperature and is specific to a particular material and isotopic system.
Therefore, in any material containing a radioactive nuclide, the proportion of the original nuclide to its decay product(s) changes in a predictable way as the original nuclide decays over time.
This predictability allows the relative abundances of related nuclides to be used as a clock to measure the time from the incorporation of the original nuclide(s) into a material to the present.
As the mineral cools, the crystal structure begins to form and diffusion of isotopes is less easy.
Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.
All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.
The precision of a dating method depends in part on the half-life of the radioactive isotope involved.
For instance, carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years.