Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find. They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years. This is different to relative dating, which only puts geological events in time order. Most absolute dates for rocks are obtained with radiometric methods. These use radioactive minerals in rocks as geological clocks. The atoms of some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.
Geologic time scale
Absolute dating — Science Learning Hub
Most absolute age determinations in geology rely on radiometric methods. The earth is billions of years old. The main condition for the method is that the production rate of isotopes stays the same through ages, i. The production of isotopes from chemical elements is known as decay rate and it is considered a constant.
Radiometric Age Dating
Following the somewhat serendipitous discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel, many prominent scientists began to investigate this new, intriguing phenomenon. During the beginning of the twentieth century, many radioactive substances were discovered, the properties of radiation were investigated and quantified, and a solid understanding of radiation and nuclear decay was developed. The spontaneous change of an unstable nuclide into another is radioactive decay. The unstable nuclide is called the parent nuclide ; the nuclide that results from the decay is known as the daughter nuclide. The daughter nuclide may be stable, or it may decay itself.
Radiometric dating is a technique used to date materials based on a knowledge of the decay rates of naturally occurring isotopes , and the current abundances. It is our principal source of information about the age of the Earth and a significant source of information about rates of evolutionary change. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing only in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.