Geologic Processes Geological processes have helped to create many iconic features on Earth.
In fact, you might like this term better, because the dating method relies on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes.
Regardless of which name you prefer, the discovery was a true breakthrough that provided a tool to predict the geological history of the Earth and even the age of the Earth itself.
Inside this nucleus, we see the protons and neutrons.
This parent nucleus is feeling somewhat unstable because it is too big or simply has too many protons, and it wants to get to a more stable state, so it's going to take two protons and two neutrons and kick them out of the nucleus as we see here.
So that neutron basically emits an electron (the beta particle) and this essentially turns it into a proton.
There is another type of decay that we want to learn about, but unlike alpha and beta decay, this type of decay does not release a particle.
We know that elements can exist as isotopes, which means that their atomic nuclei contain the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons.
Specially defined isotopes, called nuclides, can be unstable and therefore undergo radioactive decay.
Because these rates do not change and because the radiation that rocks give off can be measured, it became possible to calculate the time the rock was formed or, in other words, the rock's birth date - give or take a few thousand years or so.