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Uranium—thorium dating , also called thorium dating , uranium-series disequilibrium dating or uranium-series dating , is a radiometric dating technique established in the s which has been used since the s to determine the age of calcium carbonate materials such as speleothem or coral. Instead, it calculates an age from the degree to which secular equilibrium has been restored between the radioactive isotope thorium and its radioactive parent uranium within a sample. Thorium is not soluble in natural water under conditions found at or near the surface of the earth, so materials grown in or from this water do not usually contain thorium. As time passes after such material has formed, uranium in the sample with a half-life of , years decays to thorium At secular equilibrium, the number of thorium decays per year within a sample is equal to the number of thorium produced, which also equals the number of uranium decays per year in the same sample. In , John Joly , a professor of geology from the University of Dublin , found higher radium contents in deep sediments than in those of the continental shelf, and suspected that detrital sediments scavenged radium out of seawater. Piggot and Urry found in , that radium excess corresponded with an excess of thorium.
Chronometric Dating in Archaeology pp Cite as. Uranium decays through a number of radioactive daughter isotopes, some of which have half-lives comparable to the time scale of prehistoric archaeology. The growth of these isotopes in naturally occurring materials at archaeological sites can be used to determine the age of sites. The growth of Th from its parent, U, can be used over a time range from a few hundred to half a million years. Bones, teeth, mollusk and egg shells, are also datable but present problems due to migration of parent U in and out of the samples during their burial history.