Absolute Dating Methods

Topics: Radioactive decay, Isotope, Radiometric dating Pages: 2 (494 words) Published: September 22, 2010
Absolute dating methods are used to determine the age of materials. We need to understand how fossils are made so we can date them properly. There are five ways bones are fossilized. They are by permineralization, unaltered preservation, carbonization, authigenic preservation, and recrystalization (Shepherd). When a fossil is found you need to make sure that it can be preserved properly so it can stay in the same shape to enable research. Many steps are taken to prepare fossils and conserve them. Hardeners are used to protect against deterioration, adhesives are used to put all the pieces together, and there is a lot of mechanical preparation to clean the fossil. After the fossil is well cleaned you can examine it accurately (Paleontological Resources For Fossil Collectors). You also always have to be careful when you are handling fossils because they are often very fragile and can be damaged very easily. When you determine the age of materials by their radioactive content it is called radiometric dating. “Radiometric age-dating is based on the fact that every radioactive element decays. The original or “parent” element emits radiation and particles until the loss thereof transforms it into a stable “daughter” element. A series of transformations into other radio-active elements marks its unparalleled pattern and rate of decay until it reaches stability (Think Quest).” “The decay of radioactive elements occurs at different rates, depending on the specific isotope.  These rates are stated in terms of half-lives.  One half-life is the amount of time required for ½ of the original atoms in a sample to decay (O'Neil).” Radiometric methods provide one of the most important ways to date fossils. The main types of radiometric dating are Potassium-argon, carbon-14 or radiocarbon, thermoluminescence, and electron-spin-resonance. Potassium-argon dating is used for dating volcanic rocks associated with fossil material. It can date better for older specimens but when used...
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