Reading the Isotopic CodeBook - 1996
Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Geophysical Monograph Series, Volume 95.
Publication of this monograph will coincide, to a precision of a few per mil, with the centenary of Henri Becquerel's discovery of "radiations actives" (C. R. Acad. Sci., Feb. 24, 1896). In 1896 the Earth was only 40 million years old according to Lord Kelvin. Eleven years later, Boltwood had pushed the Earth's age past 2000 million years, based on the first U/Pb chemical dating results. In exciting progression came discovery of isotopes by J. J. Thomson in 1912, invention of the mass spectrometer by Dempster (1918) and Aston (1919), the first measurement of the isotopic composition of Pb (Aston, 1927) and the final approach, using Pb-Pb isotopic dating, to the correct age of the Earth: close-2.9 Ga (Gerling, 1942), closer-3.0 Ga (Holmes, 1949) and closest-4.50 Ga (Patterson, Tilton and Inghram, 1953).