- Geologic Age Dating Explained!
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Relative age dating also means paying attention to crosscutting relationships. Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type. Pretty obvious that the dike came after the rocks it cuts through, right? With absolute age dating, you get a real age in actual years. Based on the Rule of Superposition, certain organisms clearly lived before others, during certain geologic times.
The narrower a range of time that an animal lived, the better it is as an index of a specific time. No bones about it, fossils are important age markers. But the most accurate forms of absolute age dating are radiometric methods. This method works because some unstable radioactive isotopes of some elements decay at a known rate into daughter products. This rate of decay is called a half-life. Half-life simply means the amount of time it takes for half of a remaining particular isotope to decay to a daughter product.
Good discussion from the US Geological Survey: So geochronolgists just measure the ratio of the remaining parent atom to the amount of daughter and voila, they know how long the molecule has been hanging out decaying. There are a couple catches, of course. Not all rocks have radioactive elements.
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- Types of Absolute Age Dating!
Sedimentary rocks in particular are notoriously radioactive-free zones. So to date those, geologists look for layers like volcanic ash that might be sandwiched between the sedimentary layers, and that tend to have radioactive elements. You might have noticed that many of the oldest age dates come from a mineral called zircon.
Each radioactive isotope works best for particular applications. The half-life of carbon 14, for example, is 5, years. On the other hand, the half-life of the isotope potassium 40 as it decays to argon is 1. Chart of a few different isotope half lifes: If a rock has been partially melted, or otherwise metamorphosed, that causes complications for radiometric absolute age dating as well. Good overview as relates to the Grand Canyon: Have students reconstruct a simple geologic history — which are the oldest rocks shown?
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Add to Add to Add to. Want to watch this again later? Imagine braving the desert heat for days or even weeks as you dig for dinosaur bones. You find something extraordinary and want to know as much about it as you can. In this lesson, you'll learn how scientists determine the absolute age of materials.
RELATIVE VS. ABSOLUTE DATING by Terasa Hodson on Prezi
What is Absolute Age? Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more? Select a subject to preview related courses: Lesson Summary In absolute age dating, scientists determine the age of Earth materials as precisely as possible. Register to view this lesson Are you a student or a teacher? I am a student I am a teacher. Unlock Your Education See for yourself why 30 million people use Study. Become a Member Already a member? What teachers are saying about Study.
- What is Absolute Age?;
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