Can carbon dating used diamonds french dating
We’ve traveled to the Carnegie Institution of Washington—more specifically the Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism—to document Dr.Shirey’s work on determining the age of diamonds from many mines around the world by analyzing the tiny mineral inclusions preserved within them. Steven Shirey, a senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, has a special interest in diamond—it’s his best method of glimpsing the unimaginable pressures and temperatures of the deep earth’s interior.They decay very slowly over eons, with very long half-lives (the time it takes for a substance’s radiation to fall to half its original level).The isotope of rhenium he uses, years, or 41 billion years.Research using the rhenium-osmium decay system proves that some diamonds are of remarkable antiquity, says Shirey.“They’re sometimes the oldest minerals we can find on the earth…up to 3.5 billion years old, whereas the earth is only 4.5 billion years old, so they’re often three-quarters of the age of the earth.” Shirey adds that diamonds are also special because they’re the deepest minerals we can obtain as natural samples to study the earth.His particular specialty involves seeking out the rare individual diamonds that contain tiny and specific sulfide inclusions, painstakingly removing the inclusions and analyzing their contents—in this case, trace amounts of the radioactive isotopes of the rare metals osmium (Os) and rhenium (Re)—to determine ages on the order of billions of years.
“A diamond in a kimberlite occurs at the part-per-billion level,” says Shirey, “so the average person walking around on a kimberlite is not going to find a diamond sitting there—that’s an extremely rare occurrence.” Once researchers have traveled to suitable mining or exploration operations, where large amounts of diamond-bearing ore are produced, they have to pick through the production.
This is the principle behind long-established techniques such as radiocarbon dating, which has been widely used in archaeology.
Diamonds are vastly older than any archeological relic, so carbon dating—which can only date items back to around 60,000 years ago—isn’t possible.
The isotopes Shirey seeks provide a much longer reach back into the earth’s history.
These radioactive isotopes are like tiny, slow-ticking clocks captured in the fabric of a diamond crystal.
Unlike any other mineral, diamonds reach the surface from great depths—up to 700 kilometers (435 miles) beneath the earth’s surface—and may retain unaltered inclusions of mantle minerals within them.