Radiometric dating of surface rocks

Geological Time | Geologic Time Scale | Plate Tectonics | Radiometric Dating | Deep Time | Geological History of New Zealand | Radiometric Dating Radiometric measurements of time Since the early twentieth century scientists have found ways to accurately measure geological time.The discovery of by the French physicist, Henri Becquerel, in 1896 paved the way of measuring absolute time.With the development of modern radiometric dating methods in the late 1940s and 1950s, it was possible for the first time not only to measure the lengths of the eras, periods, and epochs but also to check the relative order of these geologic time units.Radiometric dating verified that the relative time scale determined by stratigraphers and paleontologists (Figure 1) is absolutely correct, a result that could only have been obtained if both the relative time scale and radiometric dating methods were correct.Shortly after Becquerel's find, Marie Curie, a French chemist, isolated another highly radioactive element, .The realisation that radioactive materials emit rays indicated a constant change of those materials from one element to another.

Such techniques have had an enormous impact on scientific knowledge of Earth history because precise dates can now be obtained on rocks in all orogenic (mountain) belts ranging in age from the early Archean (about 4 billion years old) to the early Neogene (roughly 20 million years old).Most scientists today believe that life has existed on the earth for billions of years.This belief in long ages for the earth and the existence of life is derived largely from radiometric dating.These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock and inferring an age based on this ratio.This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance (say, uranium) gradually decays to the daughter substance (say, lead), so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.

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