Methods of dating the earth

Relative dating methods are used to determine only if one sample is older or younger than another.

Absolute dating methods are used to determine an actual date in years for the age of an object.

The nucleus of every radioactive element (such as radium and uranium) spontaneously disintegrates over time, transforming itself into the nucleus of an atom of a different element.

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Absolute dates must agree with dates from other relative methods in order to be valid.

The most widely used and accepted form of absolute dating is radioactive decay dating. Radioactive decay refers to the process in which a radioactive form of an element is converted into a nonradioactive product at a regular rate.

The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.

Using thermoluminescence, pottery pieces as old as 100,000 years can be dated with precision. Known as dendrochronology (pronounced den-dro-crow-NOL-o-gee), tree-ring dating is based on the fact that trees produce one growth ring each year.

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining, scientists can pinpoint the exact date of the organism's death.

The range of conventional radiocarbon dating is 30,000 to 40,000 years.Before the advent of absolute dating methods in the twentieth century, nearly all dating was relative.The main relative dating method is stratigraphy (pronounced stra-TI-gra-fee), which is the study of layers of rocks or the objects embedded within those layers.When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.Dating techniques are procedures used by scientists to determine the age of an object or a series of events.

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