However, there is a limited range in Sm-Nd isotopes in many igneous rocks, although metamorphic rocks that contain the mineral garnet are useful as this mineral has a large range in Sm-Nd isotopes.This technique also helps in determining the composition and evolution of the Earth's mantle and bodies in the universe.
The amount of carbon isotopes within living organisms reaches an equilibrium value, on death no more is taken up, and the 14C present starts to decay at a known rate.
This technique uses the same minerals and rocks as for K-Ar dating but restricts measurements to the argon isotopic system which is not so affected by metamorphic and alteration events. The decay of 147Sm to 143Nd for dating rocks began in the mid-1970s and was widespread by the early 1980s.
It is useful for dating very old igneous and metamorphic rocks and also meteorites and other cosmic fragments.
For an element to be useful for geochronology (measuring geological time), the isotope must be reasonably abundant and produce daughter isotopes at a good rate.
Either a whole rock or a single mineral grain can be dated.