Potassium argon dating simplified

Posted by / 29-Feb-2020 05:05

Different methods have their own limitations, especially with regard to the age range they can measure and the substances they can date.A common problem with any dating method is that a sample may be contaminated with older or younger material and give a false age.Fossils and other objects that accumulate between these eruptions lie between two different layers of volcanic ash and rock.An object can be given an approximate date by dating the volcanic layers occurring above and below the object.A line whose slope is proportional to the age of the sample is called an isochron.Any analyses with excess argon will plot off the isochron.

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.The age of volcanic rocks and ash can be determined by measuring the proportions of argon (in the form of argon-40) and radioactive potassium within them.Each volcanic eruption produces a new deposit of ash and rock.The number of tracks increases over time at a rate that depends on the uranium content.It is possible to calculate the age of a sample by measuring the uranium content and the density of the fission tracks.

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Sedimentary rocks are rarely useful for dating because they are made up of bits of older rocks.

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