Radiometric dating ppt

James Hutton, a physician-farmer and one of the founders of the science of geology, wrote in 1788, “The result, therefore, of our present inquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning, — no prospect of an end.” Although this may now sound like an overstatement, it nicely expresses the tremendous intellectual leap required when geologic time was finally and forever severed from the artificial limits imposed by the length of the human lifetime.

By the mid- to late 1800s, geologists, physicists, and chemists were searching for ways to quantify the age of the Earth.

My purpose here is not to review and discuss all of the dating methods in use.

Instead, I describe briefly only the three principal methods. These are the three methods most commonly used by scientists to determine the ages of rocks because they have the broadest range of applicability and are highly reliable when properly used.

They observed that every rock formation, no matter how ancient, appeared to be formed from still older rocks.

Comparing these rocks with the products of present erosion, sedimentation, and earth movements, these earliest geologists soon concluded that the time required to form and sculpt the present Earth was immeasurably longer than had previously been thought.

By the early 1960s, most of the major radiometric dating techniques now in use had been tested and their general limitations were known.

Unbeknownst to the scientists engaged in this controversy, however, geology was about to be profoundly affected by the same discoveries that revolutionized physics at the turn of the 20th century.

he question of the ages of the Earth and its rock formations and features has fascinated philosophers, theologians, and scientists for centuries, primarily because the answers put our lives in temporal perspective.

Until the 18th century, this question was principally in the hands of theologians, who based their calculations on biblical chronology.

Lord Kelvin and Clarence King calculated the length of time required for the Earth to cool from a white-hot liquid state; they eventually settled on 24 million years.

James Joly calculated that the Earth’s age was 89 million years on the basis of the time required for salt to accumulate in the oceans.

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It is based on the radioactivity of Ar, however, is an inert gas that escapes easily from rocks when they are heated but is trapped within the crystal structures of many minerals after a rock cools. This correction can be made very accurately and has no appreciable effect on the calculated age unless the atmospheric argon is a very large proportion of the total argon in the analysis.

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