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(Do not confuse with the highly radioactive isotope, strontium-90.) Strontium occurs naturally as a mixture of several nuclides, including the stable isotope strontium-86.

If three different strontium-containing minerals form at the same time in the same magma, each strontium containing mineral will have the same ratios of the different strontium nuclides, since all strontium nuclides behave the same chemically.

An atom with the same number of protons in the nucleus but a different number of neutrons is called an isotope.

We designate a specific group of atoms by using the term "nuclide." A nuclide refers to a group of atoms with specified atomic number and mass number.(Note that this does not mean that the ratios are the same everywhere on earth.It merely means that the ratios are the same in the particular magma from which the test sample was later taken.) As strontium-87 forms, its ratio to strontium-86 will increase.It has the same number of protons, otherwise it wouldn't be uranium.The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom is called its atomic number.

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If we knew the fraction of a radioactive element still remaining in a mineral, it would be a simple matter to calculate its age by the formula To determine the fraction still remaining, we must know both the amount now present and also the amount present when the mineral was formed.

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