Radioactive isotope dating rocks

Unlike people, you can’t really guess the age of a rock from looking at it.Yet, you’ve heard the news: Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1,000 years old. Geologic age dating—assigning an age to materials—is an entire discipline of its own.For example, which is older, the bricks in a building or the building itself?Are there repairs or cracks in the sidewalk that came after the sidewalk was built?In this case, it is a big advantage to present the data in a form in which the abundance of both the parent and daughter isotopes are given with respect to the abundance of the initial background daughter.

With absolute age dating, you get a real age in actual years.Look for “absolute” ages such as cornerstones, dates carved into fresh concrete, or dates stamped on manhole covers.Absolute age dating: Have students work alone or in pairs to find an article or paper that uses radiometric age dating.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.

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