Radiometric dating on sedimentary rocks

Recent advances in the field of geochronology have led to a greater understanding of the scale and duration of geological processes.It is currently possible to date igneous and metamorphic rocks by a variety of radiometric methods to within a million years, but establishing the depositional age of sedimentary rocks has remained exceedingly difficult.

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Since the 1950s, geologists have used radioactive elements as natural "clocks" for determining numerical ages of certain types of rocks. "Forms" means the moment an igneous rock solidifies from magma, a sedimentary rock layer is deposited, or a rock heated by metamorphism cools off.During radioactive decay, the parent isotope transforms into a stable daughter isotope.The rates at which radioactive decay occur are constant and measurable using the isotope's half-life.In addition, the redeposition process upsets the conditions necessary to achieve accurate results through radiometric dating.Scientists believe they can indirectly date sedimentary rocks using radiometric dating if they find igneous or metamorphic rock imbedded in or around a sedimentary rock layer.ANSWER: Sedimentary rocks cannot be dated directly using radiometric dating, which is based on the idea that when rocks are in liquid form, their radiometric clock resets.This technique is generally used to date igneous and metamorphic rock, which are rocks that were once melted due to extreme heat and pressure.Radiometric dating determines how long ago the liquid rock solidified into solid rock.Sedimentary rock on the other hand consists of sedimentary particles which were removed and deposited somewhere else by some sort of fluid (generally wind and water).Sedimentary rocks may have radioactive elements in them, but they have been re-worked from other rocks, so essentially, there radiometric clock has not been re-set back to zero.However, sedimentary rocks can be age dated if a volcanic ash horizon or a diabase sill or dyke can be found within the sequence.


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