Radioactive dating rock samples
It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and it can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.The best-known radiometric dating techniques include radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating, and uranium-lead dating.When ‘parent’ uranium-238 decays, for example, it produces subatomic particles, energy and ‘daughter’ lead-206.
By establishing geological timescales, radiometric dating provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and rates of evolutionary change, and it is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.
The different methods of radiometric dating are accurate over different timescales, and they are useful for different materials.
Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.
Each original isotope, called the parent, gradually decays to form a new isotope, called the daughter.
Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.
In Nyerup's time, archaeologists could date the past only by using recorded histories, which in Europe were based mainly on the Egyptian calendar.
This is different to relative dating, which only puts geological events in time Most absolute dates for rocks are obtained with radiometric methods.