As of 2013, the Fukushima nuclear disaster site remains highly radioactive, with some 160,000 evacuees still living in temporary housing, and some land will be unfarmable for centuries.
The difficult cleanup job will take 40 or more years, and cost tens of billions of dollars.
Contamination from outside, or the loss of isotopes at any time from the rock's original formation, would change the result.
It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.
Contamination may affect a person, a place, an animal, or an object such as clothing.
Radiometric dating methods are used to establish the geological time scale.
Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a way to find out how old something is.
The method compares the amount of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, in samples. It is the main way to learn the age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself.
Radioactive contamination can be due to a variety of causes.
It may occur due to release of radioactive gases, liquids or particles.