Non radiometric dating methods

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A particularly fascinating question about the history of the Earth is “When did the Earth begin?” The answer to this question was provided by radiometric dating and is now known to within a few percent.Most commonly, the event causes partial or total loss of the radiogenic daughter isotope, resulting in a reduced age.Not all metamorphisms completely erase the radiometric record of a rock’s age, although many do.Three basic approaches are used to determine the age of the Earth.The first is to search for and date the oldest rocks exposed on the surface of the Earth.This method is thought to represent the time when lead isotopes were last homogeneously distributed throughout the Solar System and, thus, the time that the planetary bodies were segregated into discrete chemical systems.

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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.The abundance and variety of fossils in Phanerozoic rocks have allowed geologists to decipher in considerable detail the past 600 million years or so of the Earth’s history.In Precambrian rocks, however, fossils are rare; thus, the geologic record of this important part of the Earth’s history has been especially difficult to decipher.Thus, the radiometric ages obtained from these oldest rocks are not necessarily the age of the first event in the history of the rock.Moreover, many of the oldest dated rocks intrude still older but undatable rocks.

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