Which type of rock is most reliable for radiometric dating
Gaps in the geologic record, called unconformities, are common where deposition stopped and erosion removed the previously deposited material.
Fortunately, distinctive features such as index fossils can aid in matching, or correlating, rocks and formations from several incomplete areas to create a more complete geologic record for relative dating.
Half-lives of these isotopes and the parent-to-daughter ratio in a given rock sample can be measured, then a relatively simple calculation yields the absolute (radiometric) date at which the parent began to decay, i.e., the age of the rock.
Of the three basic rock types, igneous rocks are most suited for radiometric dating.
Rates of radioactive decay are constant and measured in terms of half-life, the time it takes half of a parent isotope to decay into a stable daughter isotope.
Some rock-forming minerals contain naturally occurring radioactive isotopes with very long half-lives unaffected by chemical or physical conditions that exist after the rock is formed.
Relative dating techniques provide geologists abundant evidence of the incredible vastness of geologic time and ancient age of many rocks and formations.
However, in order to place absolute dates on the relative time scale, other dating methods must be considered.
Relative dating places events or rocks in their chronologic sequence or order of occurrence.Simply stated, each bed in a sequence of sedimentary rocks (or layered volcanic rocks) is younger than the bed below it and older than the bed above it.This law follows two basic assumptions: (1) the beds were originally deposited near horizontal, and (2) the beds were not overturned after their deposition.For example, shells, wood, and other material found in the shoreline deposits of Utah’s prehistoric Lake Bonneville have yielded absolute dates using this method.These distinct shorelines also make excellent relative dating tools.