Geologists do not use carbon-based radiometric dating to determine the age of rocks. Carbon dating only works for objects that are younger than about 50, years, and most rocks of interest are older than that. Carbon dating is used by archeologists to date trees, plants, and animal remains; as well as human artifacts made from wood and leather; because these items are generally younger than 50, years. Carbon is found in different forms in the environment — mainly in the stable form of carbon and the unstable form of carbon Over time, carbon decays radioactively and turns into nitrogen.
How Do Scientists Determine the Age of Dinosaur Bones?
How Do Scientists Determine the Age of Dinosaur Bones? | HowStuffWorks
Radiation Measurement The discovery of the natural radioactive decay of uranium in by Henry Becquerel, the French physicist, opened new vistas in science. In , the British physicist Lord Rutherford--after defining the structure of the atom -- made the first clear suggestion for using radioactivity as a tool for measuring geologic time directly; shortly thereafter, in , Professor B. Boltwood, a radiochemist at Yale University, published a list of geologic ages based on radioactivity. Although Boltwood's ages have since been revised, they did show correctly that the duration of geologic time would be measured in terms of hundreds-to-thousands of millions of years. The next 40 years was a period of expanding research on the nature and behavior of atoms, leading to the development of nuclear fission and fusion as energy sources.
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. Astronomers use the distance to galaxies and the speed of light to calculate that the light has been traveling for billions of years. The expansion of the universe gives an age for the universe as a whole:
Metrics details. Earth scientists have devised many complementary and consistent techniques to estimate the ages of geologic events. Annually deposited layers of sediments or ice document hundreds of thousands of years of continuous Earth history. Gradual rates of mountain building, erosion of mountains, and the motions of tectonic plates imply hundreds of millions of years of change. Radiometric dating, which relies on the predictable decay of radioactive isotopes of carbon, uranium, potassium, and other elements, provides accurate age estimates for events back to the formation of Earth more than 4.