Science and dating

In addition, they have had to develop special techniques with which to dissolve these highly refractory minerals without contaminating the small amount (about one-billionth of a gram) of contained lead and uranium on which the age must be calculated.Since parent uranium atoms change into daughter atoms with time at a known rate, their relative abundance leads directly to the absolute age of the host mineral.A coin, vessel, or other common artifact could link two archaeological sites, but the possibility of recycling would have to be considered.It should be emphasized that linking sites together is essential if the nature of an ancient society is to be understood, as the information at a single location may be relatively insignificant by itself.Episodes of global volcanic activity, rifting of continents, folding, and metamorphism are defined by absolute ages.The results suggest that the present-day global tectonic scheme was operative in the distant past as well.plate tectonics has had a profound impact on the scientific understanding of our dynamic planet.These include some that establish a relative chronology in which occurrences can be placed in the correct sequence relative to one another or to some known succession of events.

In the oceans, new seafloor, created at the globe-circling oceanic ridges, moves away, cools, and sinks back into the mantle in what are known as subduction zones (i.e., long, narrow belts at which one plate descends beneath another).

The two approaches are often complementary, as when a sequence of occurrences in one context can be correlated with an absolute chronlogy elsewhere.

By mid-century the fossiliferous strata of Europe had been grouped into systems arrayed in chronological order.

Using this established record, geologists have been able to piece together events over the past 635 million years, or about one-eighth of Earth history, during which time useful fossils have been abundant.

The need to correlate over the rest of geologic time, to correlate nonfossiliferous units, and to calibrate the fossil time scale has led to the development of a specialized field that makes use of natural radioactive isotopes in order to calculate absolute isotopes has been improved to the point that for rocks 3 billion years old geologically meaningful errors of less than ±1 million years can be obtained.

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