Relative and absolute dating lessons


Similar ripples occur in tidal environments and correct interpretation requires that the local facies content be taken into account.Before you begin this activity, read the book chapter listed below, which is available online through Library Reserves.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.But the most accurate forms of absolute age dating are radiometric methods. Sedimentary rocks in particular are notoriously radioactive-free zones.This method works because some unstable (radioactive) isotopes of some elements decay at a known rate into daughter products. Half-life simply means the amount of time it takes for half of a remaining particular isotope to decay to a daughter product. Good discussion from the US Geological Survey: geochronolgists just measure the ratio of the remaining parent atom to the amount of daughter and voila, they know how long the molecule has been hanging out decaying. So to date those, geologists look for layers like volcanic ash that might be sandwiched between the sedimentary layers, and that tend to have radioactive elements.In a way this field, called geochronology, is some of the purest detective work earth scientists do.There are two basic approaches: relative age dating, and absolute age dating.



Beaufort Group (Permian-Triassic), Karoo Basin, South Africa.Electronic course reserves, or "e-Reserves," are articles and book chapters that are available online through the University Libraries.If you have any questions about the lesson materials or assignments, post them to our online discussion forum (not e-mail). While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate!Find additional lessons, activities, videos, and articles that focus on relative and absolute dating.

The geologic time scale was initially developed by determining the relative ages of rock units, first in Europe, and then in other parts of the world. To determine which rock units were older and which ones were younger (in a relative sense), geologists devised a number of laws, or principles, to help figure out the sequence of geologic events in a particular locality.

In this lab, you will apply many of these laws and principles to determine the relative sequence of geologic events that created a particular set of rock layers and intrusions.