Absolute age dating definition

29-Aug-2020 09:04

A common "parent-daughter" combination that geologists use is radioactive uranium and non-radioactive lead.

As shown in the diagram above, uranium is trapped in a newly formed rock.

In other words, half (50%) of the Carbon-14 you started with has decayed into the daughter isotope Nitrogen-14.

However, your readout from your radioactivity measuring instrument says you have only 25% Carbon-14 and 75% Nitrogen-14, so your fossil must have been through more than one half-life.

The ages in years of the different geological time periods are found by measuring the absolute ages of many rocks from all of the different periods.

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Half-life is defined as the time it takes for one-half of a radioactive element to decay into a daughter isotope.

Now it is time to put those math skills to good use.

At one half-life, you would have approximately 50% Carbon-14 and 50% Nitrogen-14.

If any of the fossils are unique to one of the geologic time periods, then the rock was formed during that particular time period. But these two methods only give the relative age of rocks--which are younger and which are older. Or how do we know how long ago a particular group of fossilized creatures lived?

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The age of a rock in years is called its absolute age.After two half-lives, another half of your leftover Carbon-14 would have decayed into Nitrogen-14.

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