Define uranium lead dating

The same margin of error applies for younger fossiliferous rocks, making absolute dating comparable in precision to that attained using fossils.

To achieve this precision, geochronologists have had to develop the ability to isolate certain high-quality minerals that can be shown to have remained closed to migration of the radioactive parent atoms they contain and the daughter atoms formed by radioactive decay over billions of years of geologic time.

When rocks are subjected to high temperatures and pressures in mountain roots formed where continents collide, certain datable minerals grow and even regrow to record the timing of such geologic events.

When these regions are later exposed in uptilted portions of ancient continents, a history of terrestrial rock-forming events can be deduced.

In addition, they have had to develop special techniques with which to dissolve these highly refractory minerals without contaminating the small amount (about one-billionth of a gram) of contained lead and uranium on which the age must be calculated.

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On the other hand, the abundance of argon in the Earth is relatively small because of its escape to the atmosphere during processes associated with volcanism.These include some that establish a relative chronology in which occurrences can be placed in the correct sequence relative to one another or to some known succession of events.Radiometric dating and certain other approaches are used to provide absolute chronologies in terms of years before the present.Without absolute ages, investigators could only determine which fossil organisms lived at the same time and the relative order of their appearance in the correlated sedimentary rock record.Unlike ages derived from fossils, which occur only in sedimentary rocks, absolute ages are obtained from minerals that grow as liquid rock bodies cool at or below the surface.

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