Radiometric dating geology

It has a half-life of 1.3 billion years, meaning that over a period of 1.3 Ga one-half of the Figure 8.14 The decay of 40K over time.

Each half-life is 1.3 billion years, so after 3.9 billion years (three half-lives) 12.5% of the original 40K will remain.

The red-blue bars represent 40K and the green-yellow bars represent 40Ar.

Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type.

To determine the relative age of different rocks, geologists start with the assumption that unless something has happened, in a sequence of sedimentary rock layers, the newer rock layers will be on top of older ones. This rule is common sense, but it serves as a powerful reference point.

Geologists draw on it and other basic principles ( to determine the relative ages of rocks or features such as faults.

An example is shown in Figure 8.16; radiocarbon dates from wood fragments in glacial sediments have been used to estimate the time of the last glacial advance along the Strait of Georgia.

Figure 8.16 Radiocarbon dates on wood fragments in glacial sediments in the Strait of Georgia [SE after Clague, J, 1976, Quadra Sand and its relation to late Wisconsin glaciation of southeast British Columbia, Can.

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This is determined by drawing a horizontal line from 0.95 to the decay curve line, and then a vertical line from there to the time axis.

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