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rely heavily on the uranium/thorium/lead radiometric dating methods.
Because it is not generally appreciated that the assumptions on which the radiometric estimates are based are a virtually impossible sequence of events, let us refresh our minds on the fundamentals of the method by turning to the hourglass analogy (Fig. This system of measuring time works well providing that: Since radioactive decay constants are believed to be unalterable, the requirement of an absolutely reproducible rate is hopefully met.
The most obvious feature of sedimentary rock is its layering.
This feature is produced by changes in deposition over time.
Unlike relative time, absolute time assigns specific ages to events or formations and is typically recorded in years before present.
This process requires much more sophisticated chemical analysis and, although other processes have been developed, often utilizes the decay rates of radioactive isotopes to determine the age of a given material.
By combining knowledge gained using both relative and absolute dating processes geologists have been able to produce the geologic time scale.Before 1955, ages for the Earth based on uranium/thorium/lead ratios were generally about a billion years younger than the currently popular 4.5 billion years. old Earth is reviewed and deficiencies of the uranium/lead method are discussed.The basic theory of radiometric dating is briefly reviewed.This process lead to a system of time containing eons, eras, periods, and epochs all determined by their position in the rock record.For example, rocks of the Phanerozoic eon are found on top of rocks from the Proterozoic eons therefore rocks of the Phanerozoic are younger than rocks of the Proterozoic.