The mass spectrometer is able to give information about the type and amount of isotopes found in the rock.
Scientists find the ratio of parent isotope to daughter isotope.
Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating.
By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change.
The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
These samples are carefully cataloged and analyzed with a mass spectrometer.As the isotopes decay, they give off particles from their nucleus and become a different isotope.The parent isotope is the original unstable isotope, and daughter isotopes are the stable product of the decay. In the first 5,730 years, the organism will lose half of its C-14 isotopes.Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.