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These effects must be corrected, and the process is intricate enough to require computers.

Ar-Ar analyses cost around 00 per sample and take several weeks.

That is, a fresh mineral grain has its K-Ar "clock" set at zero.

The method relies on satisfying some important assumptions: Given careful work in the field and in the lab, these assumptions can be met.

The Washington Post article Scientists discover hundreds of footprints left at the dawn of modern humanity describes the geological dating of stratified layers of mud by analyzing and dating minerals within each layer.Young rocks have low levels of Ar, so as much as several kilograms may be needed.Rock samples are recorded, marked, sealed and kept free of contamination and excessive heat on the way to the lab.The potassium-argon (K-Ar) isotopic dating method is especially useful for determining the age of lavas.Developed in the 1950s, it was important in developing the theory of plate tectonics and in calibrating the geologic time scale.

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