Earth dating methods

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With sensitive instrumentation, this range can be extended to 70,000 years.

In addition to the radiocarbon dating technique, scientists have developed other dating methods based on the transformation of one element into another.

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.

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

These plants are eaten by animals who, in turn, are eaten by even larger animals.

Radioactive decay: The predictable manner in which a population of atoms of a radioactive element spontaneously disintegrate over time.

Stratigraphy: Study of layers of rocks or the objects embedded within those layers.

These include the uranium-thorium method, the potassium-argon method, and the rubidium-strontium method. Thermoluminescence (pronounced ther-moeloo-mi-NES-ence) dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery.

When a piece of pottery is heated in a laboratory at temperatures more than 930°F (500°C), electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay emit light.

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