Fossil age dating

Geologists choose a dating method that suits the materials available in their rocks. Measuring isotopes is particularly useful for dating igneous and some metamorphic rock, but not sedimentary rock.

Sedimentary rock is made of particles derived from other rocks, so measuring isotopes would date the original rock material, not the sediments they have ended up in.

When an organism dies it ceases to replenish carbon in its tissues and the decay of carbon 14 to nitrogen 14 changes the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14.

If the fossil has 35% of its carbon 14 still, then we can substitute values into our equation.However, there are radiometric dating methods that can be used on sedimentary rock, including luminescence dating.All radiometric dating methods measure isotopes in some way.These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.Each original isotope, called the parent, gradually decays to form a new isotope, called the daughter.

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