How Is Radioactive Dating Used to Date Fossils? | Sciencing
Using relative and radiometric dating methods, geologists are able to answer the question: how old is this Relative dating to determine the age of rocks and fossils . The atomic nucleus in C14 is unstable making the isotope radioactive. Scientists use carbon dating when determining the age of fossils that Half-life of Carbon Radiometric dating is a technique used to date. When we think of fossils, the first things that come to mind are the bones of How Fossils are Dated: Superposition, Carbon, and Radiometric Dating.
Sometimes multiple index fossils can be used. In a hypothetical example, a rock formation contains fossils of a type of brachiopod known to occur between and million years. The same rock formation also contains a type of trilobite that was known to live to million years ago.
Since the rock formation contains both types of fossils the ago of the rock formation must be in the overlapping date range of to million years. Studying the layers of rock or strata can also be useful. Layers of rock are deposited sequentially. If a layer of rock containing the fossil is higher up in the sequence that another layer, you know that layer must be younger in age. This can often be complicated by the fact that geological forces can cause faulting and tilting of rocks.
Absolute Dating Absolute dating is used to determine a precise age of a rock or fossil through radiometric dating methods. This uses radioactive minerals that occur in rocks and fossils almost like a geological clock. So, often layers of volcanic rocks above and below the layers containing fossils can be dated to provide a date range for the fossil containing rocks. Nuclear tests, nuclear reactors and the use of nuclear weapons have also changed the composition of radioisotopes in the air over the last few decades.
This human nuclear activity will make precise dating of fossils from our lifetime very difficult due to contamination of the normal radioisotope composition of the earth with addition artificially produced radioactive atoms. The various confounding factors that can adversely affect the accuracy of carbon dating methods are evident in many of the other radioisotope dating methods. Although the half-life of some of them are more consistent with the evolutionary worldview of millions to billions of years, the assumptions used in radiometric dating put the results of all radiometric dating methods in doubt.
The following is an article on this subject. These isotopes have longer half-lives and so are found in greater abundance in older fossils. Some of these other isotopes include: The assumptions are similar to the assumptions used in carbon dating.How Do Paleontologists Date Fossils? - Secrets of the Underground
The mathematical premise undergirding the use of these elements in radiometric dating contains the similar confounding factors that we find in carbon dating method. Most scientists today believe that life has existed on the earth for billions of years. This belief in long ages for the earth and the evolution of all life is based entirely on the hypothetical and non-empirical Theory of Evolution.
All dating methods that support this theory are embraced, while any evidence to the contrary, e. Prior to radiometric dating, evolution scientists used index fossils a. A paleontologist would take the discovered fossil to a geologist who would ask the paleontologist what other fossils searching for an index fossil were found near their discovery. If it sounds like circular reasoning, it is because this process in reality is based upon circular reasoning. Henry Morris as follows: These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock, and inferring an age based on this ratio.
This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance say, uranium gradually decays to the daughter substance say, leadso the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be. While there are many problems with such dating methods, such as parent or daughter substances entering or leaving the rock, e.
Geologists assert that generally speaking, older dates are found deeper down in the geologic column, which they take as evidence that radiometric dating is giving true ages, since it is apparent that rocks that are deeper must be older.
But even if it is true that older radiometric dates are found lower down in the geologic column which is open to questionthis can potentially be explained by processes occurring in magma chambers which cause the lava erupting earlier to appear older than the lava erupting later.
Dating Fossils – How Are Fossils Dated?
Lava erupting earlier would come from the top of the magma chamber, and lava erupting later would come from lower down. A number of processes could cause the parent substance to be depleted at the top of the magma chamber, or the daughter product to be enriched, both of which would cause the lava erupting earlier to appear very old according to radiometric dating, and lava erupting later to appear younger.
Other possible confounding variables are the mechanisms that can alter daughter-to-parent ratios. We can see that many varieties of minerals are produced from the same magma by the different processes of crystallization, and these different minerals may have very different compositions.
It is possible that the ratio of daughter to parent substances for radiometric dating could differ in the different minerals. Stratigraphy is the science of understanding the strata, or layers, that form the sedimentary record.
Strata are differentiated from each other by their different colors or compositions and are exposed in cliffs, quarries, and river banks. These rocks normally form relatively horizontal, parallel layers, with younger layers forming on top.
Because rock sequences are not continuous, but may be broken up by faults or periods of erosion, it is difficult to match up rock beds that are not directly adjacent.
D: Carbon Dating and Estimating Fossil Age - Biology LibreTexts
The layers of sedimentary rock, or strata, can be seen as horizontal bands of differently colored or differently structured materials exposed in this cliff.
The deeper layers are older than the layers found at the top, which aids in determining the relative age of fossils found within the strata. Biostratigraphy Fossils of species that survived for a relatively short time can be used to match isolated rocks: