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31-Jul-2019 17:21

It’s based either on fossils which are recognized to represent a particular interval of time, or on radioactive decay of specific isotopes. Based on the Rule of Superposition, certain organisms clearly lived before others, during certain geologic times.After all, a dinosaur wouldn’t be caught dead next to a trilobite.

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So carbon 14 is used to date materials that aren’t that old geologically, say in the tens of thousands of years, while potassium-argon dating can be used to determine the ages of much older materials, in the millions and billions year range.

That’s because zircon is super tough – it resists weathering. Each radioactive isotope works best for particular applications.

The half-life of carbon 14, for example, is 5,730 years.

The narrower a range of time that an animal lived, the better it is as an index of a specific time.

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No bones about it, fossils are important age markers.

Here is an easy-to understand analogy for your students: relative age dating is like saying that your grandfather is older than you.