DK Science: Dating Fossils

Was it a comet or asteroid impact? Volcanic eruptions? Climate change? In an attempt to resolve the issue, an international team of scientists have determined the most precise dates yet for the dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago and for the well-known impact that occurred around the same time. The new extinction date is precise to within 11, years. The revised dates clear up lingering confusion over whether the impact actually occurred before or after the extinction, which was characterized by the almost overnight disappearance from the fossil record of land-based dinosaurs and many ocean creatures. The new date for the impact — 66,, years ago — is the same within error limits as the date of the extinction, said Renne, making the events simultaneous.

Argon–argon dating

Some updates to this article are now available. The sections on the branching ratio and dating meteorites need updating. Radiometric dating methods estimate the age of rocks using calculations based on the decay rates of radioactive elements such as uranium, strontium, and potassium. On the surface, radiometric dating methods appear to give powerful support to the statement that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years.

We are told that these methods are accurate to a few percent, and that there are many different methods.

Relative Dating is when you give the age of a rock or fossil compared to another Carbon (radiocarbon); Potassium-Argon So when did this T-Rex live?

Radiometric dating of rocks and minerals using naturally occurring, long-lived radioactive isotopes is troublesome for young-earth creationists because the techniques have provided overwhelming evidence of the antiquity of the earth and life. Some so-called creation scientists have attempted to show that radiometric dating does not work on theoretical grounds for example, Arndts and Overn ; Gill but such attempts invariably have fatal flaws see Dalrymple ; York and Dalrymple Other creationists have focused on instances in which radiometric dating seems to yield incorrect results.

In most instances, these efforts are flawed because the authors have misunderstood or misrepresented the data they attempt to analyze for example, Woodmorappe ; Morris HM ; Morris JD Only rarely does a creationist actually find an incorrect radiometric result Austin ; Rugg and Austin that has not already been revealed and discussed in the scientific literature.

The creationist approach of focusing on examples where radiometric dating yields incorrect results is a curious one for two reasons. First, it provides no evidence whatsoever to support their claim that the earth is very young. If the earth were only —10 years old, then surely there should be some scientific evidence to confirm that hypothesis; yet the creationists have produced not a shred of it so far.

Where are the data and age calculations that result in a consistent set of ages for all rocks on earth, as well as those from the moon and the meteorites, no greater than 10 years? Glaringly absent, it seems. Second, it is an approach doomed to failure at the outset.

Dinosaur extinction: Scientists estimate ‘most accurate’ date

Potassium-Argon Dating Potassium-Argon dating is the only viable technique for dating very old archaeological materials. Geologists have used this method to date rocks as much as 4 billion years old. It is based on the fact that some of the radioactive isotope of Potassium, Potassium K ,decays to the gas Argon as Argon Ar By comparing the proportion of K to Ar in a sample of volcanic rock, and knowing the decay rate of K, the date that the rock formed can be determined.

How Does the Reaction Work? Potassium K is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust 2.

Although potassium-argon is one of the simplest dating methods, there are still have carbon (unless contaminated), as the dinosaurs became extinct over.

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The good dates are confirmed using at least two different methods, ideally involving multiple independent labs for each method to cross-check results. Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.

Dating dinosaurs and other fossils

Intro How did they move? What did they look like? Are they all the same species?

Radiometric dating of Mesozoic strata using radioisotopes other than radiocarbon (e.g., U/Pb, U/Pb, 87Rb/86Sr, 40K/40Ar.

Fossils themselves, and the sedimentary rocks they are found in, are very difficult to date directly. These include radiometric dating of volcanic layers above or below the fossils or by comparisons to similar rocks and fossils of known ages. Knowing when a dinosaur or other animal lived is important because it helps us place them on the evolutionary family tree. Accurate dates also allow us to create sequences of evolutionary change and work out when species appeared or became extinct.

There are two main methods to date a fossil. These are:. Where possible, several different methods are used and each method is repeated to confirm the results obtained and improve accuracy. 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. This problem is now reduced by the careful collection of samples, rigorous crosschecking and the use of newer techniques that can date minute samples.

Geologic Age Dating Explained

Interbasinal stratigraphic correlation provides the foundation for all consequent continental-scale geological and paleontological analyses. Correlation requires synthesis of lithostratigraphic, biostratigraphic and geochronologic data, and must be periodically updated to accord with advances in dating techniques, changing standards for radiometric dates, new stratigraphic concepts, hypotheses, fossil specimens, and field data.

Outdated or incorrect correlation exposes geological and paleontological analyses to potential error. The current work presents a high-resolution stratigraphic chart for terrestrial Late Cretaceous units of North America, combining published chronostratigraphic, lithostratigraphic, and biostratigraphic data. Revisions to the stratigraphic placement of most units are slight, but important changes are made to the proposed correlations of the Aguja and Javelina formations, Texas, and recalibration corrections in particular affect the relative age positions of the Belly River Group, Alberta; Judith River Formation, Montana; Kaiparowits Formation, Utah; and Fruitland and Kirtland formations, New Mexico.

The stratigraphic ranges of selected clades of dinosaur species are plotted on the chronostratigraphic framework, with some clades comprising short-duration species that do not overlap stratigraphically with preceding or succeeding forms.

It is based on the fact that some of the radioactive isotope of Potassium, Potassium (K),decays to the gas Argon as Argon (Ar). By.

Potassium-argon dating is a method for estimating the age of volcanic rocks by measuring the ratio of potassium to argon present. The method is based on the fact that the potassium isotope of potassium decays over time to form argon The useful fact about these two substances is that at normal temperatures, potassium is a solid, but argon is a gas.

Therefore, during volcanic eruptions, any argon that is present escapes from the rock. But after the rock solidifies, any potassium that is present continues to decay, and the argon that is produced cannot escape from the rock. Thus, geologists use potassium-argon dating to measure the age of volcanic rocks. If the concentration of argon is almost zero, then the rock was formed recently. If it is high relative to the amount of potassium present, then the rock is old.

Archaeologists and biologists are also sometimes able to use potassium-argon dating to measure the age of artifacts and fossils, when these have become trapped in or buried under volcanic rock. The mathematical formula that is used to figure the age of the rock depends on the half-life of potassium the time it takes for half the potassium in a given sample to decay.

The half-live of potassium is approximately 1. Obviously, this formula depends on the laws of physics remaining constant over time.

How we date dinosaur bones

Philip J. The American Biology Teacher 1 February ; 82 2 : 72— The recent discovery of radiocarbon in dinosaur bones at first seems incompatible with an age of millions of years, due to the short half-life of radiocarbon. However, evidence from isotopes other than radiocarbon shows that dinosaur fossils are indeed millions of years old. Fossil bone incorporates new radiocarbon by means of recrystallization and, in some cases, bacterial activity and uranium decay.

Because of this, bone mineral — fossil or otherwise — is a material that cannot yield an accurate radiocarbon date except under extraordinary circumstances.

Geologists do not use carbon-based radiometric dating to determine the For instance, potassium decaying to argon has a half-life of

For more than three decades potassium-argon K-Ar and argon-argon Ar-Ar dating of rocks has been crucial in underpinning the billions of years for Earth history claimed by evolutionists. Dalrymple argues strongly:. Hualalai basalt, Hawaii AD 1. Etna basalt, Sicily BC 0. Etna basalt, Sicily AD 0. Lassen plagioclase, California AD 0. Akka Water Fall flow, Hawaii Pleistocene Stromboli, Italy, volcanic bomb September 23, 2.

Etna basalt, Sicily May 0.

Refining the date of the K/T boundary and the dinosaur extinction

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Potassium/argon dating is error prone when dating samples under half a million years Cretaceous fauna—dinosaurs, pterosaurs, marine reptiles and many.

In this section we will explore the use of carbon dating to determine the age of fossil remains. Carbon is a key element in biologically important molecules. During the lifetime of an organism, carbon is brought into the cell from the environment in the form of either carbon dioxide or carbon-based food molecules such as glucose; then used to build biologically important molecules such as sugars, proteins, fats, and nucleic acids.

These molecules are subsequently incorporated into the cells and tissues that make up living things. Therefore, organisms from a single-celled bacteria to the largest of the dinosaurs leave behind carbon-based remains. Carbon dating is based upon the decay of 14 C, a radioactive isotope of carbon with a relatively long half-life years.

While 12 C is the most abundant carbon isotope, there is a close to constant ratio of 12 C to 14 C in the environment, and hence in the molecules, cells, and tissues of living organisms. This constant ratio is maintained until the death of an organism, when 14 C stops being replenished. At this point, the overall amount of 14 C in the organism begins to decay exponentially.

Therefore, by knowing the amount of 14 C in fossil remains, you can determine how long ago an organism died by examining the departure of the observed 12 C to 14 C ratio from the expected ratio for a living organism. Radioactive isotopes, such as 14 C, decay exponentially. The half-life of an isotope is defined as the amount of time it takes for there to be half the initial amount of the radioactive isotope present.

We can use our our general model for exponential decay to calculate the amount of carbon at any given time using the equation,.

Potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating