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Glossary radiometric dating

First, each age is based on numerous measurements; laboratory errors, had there been any, would be readily apparent.Second, ages were measured on two very different minerals, sanidine and biotite, from several of the ash beds.

Relative dating to determine the age of rocks and fossils: Geologists have established a set of principles that can be applied to sedimentary and volcanic rocks that are exposed at the Earth’s surface to determine the relative ages of geological events preserved in the rock record.The Pierre Shale, which is divided into identifiable sedimentary beds called members, also contains abundant fossils of numerous species of ammonites, ancestors of the chambered nautilus.The fossils, when combined with geologic mapping, allow the various exposed sections of the Pierre Shale to be pieced together in their proper relative positions to form a complete composite section (Figure 1).The Pierre Shale also contains volcanic ash that was erupted from volcanoes and then fell into the sea, where it was preserved as thin beds.These ash beds, called bentonites, contain sanidine feldspar and biotite that has been dated using the 40Ar/39Ar technique.

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For inorganic materials, such as rocks containing the radioactive isotope rubidium, the amount of the isotope in the object is compared to the amount of the isotope's decay products (in this case strontium).

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