Dating lava flows for paleomagnetic

To learn more about how volcanoes have created the Hawaiian Islands, check out Plate Tectonics: The Hawaiian Archipelago. It is apparently caused by a massive iron core (called the "magnetic core"). It is known that the center of our magnetic north pole keeps moving from one place in the Arctic to another.Radiocarbon dating relies on an understanding that some isotopes of carbon are radioactive and decay at constant rates over time.These unstable isotopes lose particles from their nuclei, thus becoming different elements.For hundreds of thousands of years, lava flows have created intricate patterns on the slopes of Hawaiʻi's Mauna Loa volcano.Until the mid-1970s, it was impossible to know when each of the flows occurred.After an organism's death, its carbon-12 content remains constant.

This fact enables scientists to determine earlier locations of the magnetic north pole.This technique, also called radiometric dating, measures the stage of decay of specific radioactive isotopes contained in the object.Depending on which isotope is analyzed, objects from several billion years old to just a few thousand years old can be accurately dated.Hence, the ratio of the two isotopes changes over time.The half-life of carbon-14 is 5,730 years, which means that in 5,730 years, half of the original carbon-14 atoms will have changed to nitrogen.

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