Methods of dating the age of the earth

16-Mar-2020 11:42

The uranium-thorium method is often helpful for dating finds in the 40,000- to 500,000-year-old range, too old for radiocarbon but too young for K-Ar or Ar-Ar.

Over time, certain kinds of rocks and organic material, such as coral and teeth, are very good at trapping electrons from sunlight and cosmic rays pummeling Earth.

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They then use that absolute date to establish a relative age for fossils and artifacts in relation to that layer. Anything below the Taupo tephra is earlier than 232; anything above it is later.

While K-Ar dating requires destroying large samples to measure potassium and argon levels separately, Ar-Ar dating can analyze both at once with a single, smaller sample.

Uranium series dating: U-series dating includes a number of methods, each based on different uranium isotopes’ decay rates.

Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. “They’re based on ‘it’s that old because I say so,’ a popular approach by some of my older colleagues,” says Shea, laughing, “though I find I like it myself as I get more gray hair.” Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.

Methods fall into one of two categories: relative or absolute.

They then use that absolute date to establish a relative age for fossils and artifacts in relation to that layer. Anything below the Taupo tephra is earlier than 232; anything above it is later.

While K-Ar dating requires destroying large samples to measure potassium and argon levels separately, Ar-Ar dating can analyze both at once with a single, smaller sample.

Uranium series dating: U-series dating includes a number of methods, each based on different uranium isotopes’ decay rates.

Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. “They’re based on ‘it’s that old because I say so,’ a popular approach by some of my older colleagues,” says Shea, laughing, “though I find I like it myself as I get more gray hair.” Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.

Methods fall into one of two categories: relative or absolute.

Egyptologists, for example, created a relative chronology of pre-pharaonic Egypt based on increasing complexity in ceramics found at burial sites.