Using relative dating what can geologists determine

Thus, by measuring the ratio of lead to uranium within a zircon mineral, we can determine the age of the zircon mineral with very low error (or high precision).The half-life of uranium with 238 neutrons is about 4.47 billion years, and uranium with 235 neutrons has a half-life of 704 million years.The timescale presented at left shows the four major eras (Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic), with the oldest on the right and youngest at the top left.The eras are broken down into periods, which represent smaller units of time.Jen standing on a beach with a huge outcrop in the background.Notice how the rocks are layered, with those at the bottom light colored, and those overlying darker.

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The geologic timescale is the most common way geologists organize and communicate major periods of the Earth’s past.These rocks contain the mineral zircon, which contains both the elements thorium (Th) and uranium (U) in its crystal structure.Over very long periods of time, uranium decays to lead.Therefore, due to the very long half-life of uranium 238, we can use that element and its decay to lead to date the age of the Earth.Other elements have different half-lives and may be more suitable for dating younger rocks.Fossils are contained within sedimentary rocks, which are rocks that are formed over time from the accumulation of sediment, such as in a lake, ocean basin, or river.

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