What information can relative and radioactive dating provide
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If have a fossil in a certain geological formation and knows its relative age, this can be used to identify the relative age of rocks, and fossils of a similar species, in rock strata miles away. This is known as biostratigraphy and was used to help determine the general age of rock strata sequences before radiometric dating was discovered. See pic. What information does relative dating provide to paleontologists?
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How Is Radioactive Dating Used to Determine the Age of an Object?
Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is any technique used to date organic and also inorganic materials from a process involving radioactive decay. 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. All these methods are based on the fact the rate at which radioactive nuclei disintegrate is unaffected by their environment, it can be used to estimate the age of any material sample or object which contains a radioactive isotope. Calculations of the decay of radioactive nuclei are relatively straightforward, owing to the fact that there is only one fundamental law governing all decay process. The radioactive decay law states that the probability per unit time that a nucleus will decay is a constant, independent of time. This constant probability may vary greatly between different types of nuclei, leading to the many different observed decay rates. The radioactive decay of certain number of atoms mass is exponential in time.
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One example of radioactive dating is carbon dating. Carbon dating can be used on anything that was once alive, be it plant or animal. A couple of wonderful examples have been in the news in the past years.
Potassium—argon dating , abbreviated K—Ar dating , is a radiometric dating method used in geochronology and archaeology. It is based on measurement of the product of the radioactive decay of an isotope of potassium K into argon Ar. Potassium is a common element found in many materials, such as micas , clay minerals , tephra , and evaporites. In these materials, the decay product 40 Ar is able to escape the liquid molten rock, but starts to accumulate when the rock solidifies recrystallizes. The amount of argon sublimation that occurs is a function of the purity of the sample, the composition of the mother material, and a number of other factors.