Video chat camtocam - Paleontology relative dating

This problem is now reduced by the careful collection of samples, rigorous crosschecking and the use of newer techniques that can date minute samples.

Volcanic rocks – such as tuff and basalt – can be used in dating because they are formed at a particular moment in time, during an eruption.

Knowing when a dinosaur or other animal lived is important because it helps us place them on the evolutionary family tree.

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Instead, other methods are used to work out a fossil’s age.

These include radiometric dating of volcanic layers above or below the fossils or by comparisons to similar rocks and fossils of known ages.

The heat from a volcanic eruption releases all the argon from the molten rock and disperses it into the atmosphere.

Argon then starts to re-accumulate at a constant rate in the newly formed rock that is created after the eruption.

Only one sample is required for this method as both the argon-39 and argon-40 can be extracted from the same sample.

In special cases, bones can be compared by measuring chemicals within them.

This newer method converts a stable form of potassium (potassium-39) into argon-39.

Measuring the proportions of argon-39 and argon-40 within a sample allows the age of the sample to be determined.

The level of nitrogen gradually reduces as the bone decays.

Absolute dating is not possible with this method because the rate at which the nitrogen content declines depends on the surrounding temperature, moisture, soil chemicals and bacteria.

This form of uranium usually decays into a stable lead isotope but the uranium atoms can also split – a process known as fission.

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