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Hence, the Rb/Sr ratio in residual magma may increase over time, resulting in rocks with increasing Rb/Sr ratios with increasing differentiation. Typically, Rb/Sr increases in the order plagioclase, hornblende, K-feldspar, biotite, muscovite.

Therefore, given sufficient time for significant production (ingrowth) of radiogenic Sr values will be different in the minerals, increasing in the same order.

If the initial amount of Sr is known or can be extrapolated, the age can be determined by measurement of the Rb and Sr concentrations and the Sr ratio.

The dates indicate the true age of the minerals only if the rocks have not been subsequently altered.

Radioactive elements "decay" (that is, change into other elements) by "half lives." If a half life is equal to one year, then one half of the radioactive element will have decayed in the first year after the mineral was formed; one half of the remainder will decay in the next year (leaving one-fourth remaining), and so forth.

The formula for the fraction remaining is one-half raised to the power given by the number of years divided by the half-life (in other words raised to a power equal to the number of half-lives).

For example, consider the case of an igneous rock such as a granite that contains several major Sr-bearing minerals including plagioclase feldspar, K-feldspar, hornblende, biotite, and muscovite.

Conversely, these fluids may metasomatically alter a rock, introducing new Rb and Sr into the rock (generally during potassic alteration or calcic (albitisation) alteration.

Rubidium substitutes for potassium within the lattice of minerals at a rate proportional to its concentration within the melt.

The ideal scenario according to Bowen's reaction series would see a granite melt begin crystallizing a cumulate assemblage of plagioclase and hornblende (i.e.; tonalite or diorite), which is low in K (and hence Rb) but high in Sr (as this substitutes for Ca), which proportionally enriches the melt in K and Rb.

The important concept in isotopic tracing is that Sr derived from any mineral through weathering reactions will have the same Sr as the mineral.

Although this is a potential source of error for terrestrial rocks, it is irrelevant for lunar rocks and meteorites, as there are no chemical weathering reactions in those environments.