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Posted by / 03-Jul-2018 10:57

The rates at which radioactive decay occur are constant and measurable using the isotope's half-life.

The half-life of a radioactive element is the time required for half the isotope to decay to form the stable daughter isotope.

The most obvious feature of sedimentary rock is its layering.

This feature is produced by changes in deposition over time.

In a way this field, called geochronology, is some of the purest detective work earth scientists do.

There are two basic approaches: relative age dating, and absolute age dating.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, using radiodating of sedimentary rock tells the date of formation of the original igneous rock, which, through the processes of weathering and erosion, formed the layers of the sedimentary rock.

This process requires much more sophisticated chemical analysis and, although other processes have been developed, often utilizes the decay rates of radioactive isotopes to determine the age of a given material.With this in mind geologist have long known that the deeper a sedimentary rock layer is the older it is, but how old?Although there might be some mineral differences due to the difference in source rock, most sedimentary rock deposited year after year look very similar to one another.If a layer of igneous rock forms on top of the sedimentary rock, scientists determine an age bracket for the rock sample, but not an absolute age. However, the relatively short half-life of approximately 5,730 years makes it inappropriate for older samples.For dating older materials, scientists use isotopes of other elements, some of which have a half-life of 106 billion years.

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