Age of the earth dating methods
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Can we determine the age of the earth, and if so, how? Scientists generally agree that the answer to the riddle of the age of the earth is carefully concealed within the earth's crust. Thus, the geologic timescale and radiometric dating have been developed in an effort to determine the age of the earth. The older of the two dating methods, the geologic timescale, is actually a circular argument and is therefore considered by many scholars to be weak. Nevertheless, the geologic timescale was thought to have been redeemed and refined with the advent of radiometric dating.
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How Science Figured Out the Age of Earth - Scientific American
Planet Earth doesn't have a birth certificate to record its formation, which means scientists spent hundreds of years struggling to determine the age of the planet. So, just how old is Earth? By dating the rocks in Earth's ever-changing crust, as well as the rocks in Earth's neighbors, such as the moon and visiting meteorites, scientists have calculated that Earth is 4. Related: How Big is Earth? Scientists have made several attempts to date the planet over the past years.
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4.55 ± 0.05 Gyr
Relative time allows scientists to tell the story of Earth events, but does not provide specific numeric ages, and thus, the rate at which geologic processes operate. Relative dating principles was how scientists interpreted Earth history until the end of the 19th Century. Because science advances as technology advances, the discovery of radioactivity in the late s provided scientists with a new scientific tool called radioisotopic dating. Using this new technology, they could assign specific time units, in this case years, to mineral grains within a rock. These numerical values are not dependent on comparisons with other rocks such as with relative dating, so this dating method is called absolute dating [ 5 ].
Many independent measurements have established that the Earth and the universe are billions of years old. Geologists have found annual layers in ice that are easily counted to multiple tens of thousands of years, and when combined with radio isotope dating, we find hundreds of thousands of years of ice layers. Using the known rate of change in radio-active elements radiometric dating , some Earth rocks have been shown to be billions of years old, while the oldest solar system rocks are dated at 4.