What is relative dating and radiometric dating


These atoms will inevitably decay through a series of evolutions. Uranium will ultimately decay into the stable element lead.The father element being the Uranium and the end result creating the daughter element lead.Two general processes used to figure out the age of rocks is relative dating and radiometric dating.We will compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of both methods.These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.Each original isotope, called the parent, gradually decays to form a new isotope, called the daughter.They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.



Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.A Danish scientist, Nicolaus Steno is accredited for the Law of Superposition.This law basically tells us that each layer of sedimentary rock is younger than the one below it which is depicted in figure 8.3 in the text.Another relative dating process is the Principle of Cross-Cutting Relationships.

This takes place when faults force themselves through older rocks.

Geologists choose a dating method that suits the materials available in their rocks. Measuring isotopes is particularly useful for dating igneous and some metamorphic rock, but not sedimentary rock.


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