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and is now the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of fossilized life forms or the age of the Earth itself, and can also be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geological time scale.
Thorium-230 is itself radioactive with a half-life of 75,000 years, so instead of accumulating indefinitely (as for instance is the case for the uranium-lead system), thorium-230 instead approaches secular equilibrium with its radioactive parent uranium-234.
At secular equilibrium, the number of thorium-230 decays per year within a sample is equal to the number of thorium-230 produced, which also equals the number of uranium-234 decays per year in the same sample.
The two cascades are different—235U becomes 207Pb and 238U becomes 206Pb.