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On the other hand, the half-life of the isotope potassium 40 as it decays to argon is 1.26 billion years.
So carbon 14 is used to date materials that aren’t that old geologically, say in the tens of thousands of years, while potassium-argon dating can be used to determine the ages of much older materials, in the millions and billions year range.
Along the way, we'll learn how stratigraphic succession and radioactive decay contribute to the work of paleontologists.
Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.
The narrower a range of time that an animal lived, the better it is as an index of a specific time.
No bones about it, fossils are important age markers.
What’s more, if the whole rock is badly weathered, it will be hard to find an intact mineral grain containing radioactive isotopes.
Take students on a neighborhood walk and see what you can observe about age dates around you.That’s because zircon is super tough – it resists weathering. Each radioactive isotope works best for particular applications.The half-life of carbon 14, for example, is 5,730 years.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.