Methods for dating rocks and fossils

Different species of ammonites lived at different times within the Mesozoic, so identifying a fossil species can help narrow down when a rock was formed.

Correlation can involve matching an undated rock with a dated one at another location.

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Throughout the history of life, different organisms have appeared, flourished and become extinct.

Many of these organisms have left their remains as fossils in sedimentary rocks.

Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed.

The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay.

Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.

Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.

Any dead material incorporated with sedimentary deposits is a possible candidate for carbon-14 dating.

Radiometric dating has been used to determine the ages of the Earth, Moon, meteorites, ages of fossils, including early man, timing of glaciations, ages of mineral deposits, recurrence rates of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the history of reversals of Earth's magnetic field, and many of other geological events and processes.

Suppose you find a fossil at one place that cannot be dated using absolute methods.

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