Changing Views of the History of the Earth
How Old Is the Moon? A new analysis of lunar rocks brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts suggests that the moon formed 4. Some previous studies have come up with similar estimates, while others have argued for a younger moon that coalesced million to million years after the solar system was born. The new finding, which was published today Jan. The moon’s birth Astronomers think the moon was born after a Mars-size body or a series of such big objects slammed into the early Earth. Some of the material blasted into space coalesced to form Earth’s nearest neighbor, the thinking goes. But it’s been hard to pin down exactly when this impact, or these impacts, occurred, Barboni said. That’s because the rocks collected by Apollo astronauts and studied by scientists tend to be breccias — jumbles of different rock types mashed together by meteorite strikes which are very common on the lunar surface, because the moon has almost no atmosphere to burn up falling space rocks. Rather than study entire rocks and hope they date all the way back to the moon’s birth, the team dated the formation of the object’s mantle and overlying crust.
The initial ratio has particular importance for studying the chemical evolution of the Earth’s mantle and crust, as we discussed in the section on igneous rocks. K-Ar Dating 40K is the radioactive isotope of K, and makes up 0. Since K is one of the 10 most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust, the decay of 40K is important in dating rocks. But this scheme is not used because 40Ca can be present as both radiogenic and non-radiogenic Ca.
Note that this is not always true. If a magma cools quickly on the surface of the Earth, some of the Ar may be trapped.
Relative dating is used to determine a fossils approximate age by comparing it to similar rocks and fossils of known ages. Absolute dating is used to determine a precise age of a fossil by using radiometric dating to measure the decay of isotopes, either within the fossil or more often the rocks .
At the time that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be million years old. By , it was found to be 1. In , science firmly established that the earth was 3. Finally in , it was discovered that the earth is “really” 4. In these early studies the order of sedimentary rocks and structures were used to date geologic time periods and events in a relative way.
At first, the use of “key” diagnostic fossils was used to compare different areas of the geologic column. Although there were attempts to make relative age estimates, no direct dating method was available until the twentieth century. However, before this time some very popular indirect methods were available. For example, Lord Kelvin had estimated the ages of both the Earth and the Sun based on cooling rates. The answer of 25 million years deduced by Kelvin was not received favorably by geologists.
Both the physical geologists and paleontologists could point to evidence that much more time was needed to produce what they saw in the stratigraphic and fossil records. As one answer to his critics, Kelvin produced a completely independent estimate — this time for the age of the Sun.
Age of the Earth
This belief in long ages for the earth and the existence of life is derived largely from radiometric dating. These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock and inferring an age based on this ratio. This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance say, uranium gradually decays to the daughter substance say, lead , so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.
Of course, there are many problems with such dating methods, such as parent or daughter substances entering or leaving the rock, as well as daughter product being present at the beginning. Here I want to concentrate on another source of error, namely, processes that take place within magma chambers. To me it has been a real eye opener to see all the processes that are taking place and their potential influence on radiometric dating.
A commonly used radiometric dating technique relies on the breakdown of potassium (40 K) to argon (40 Ar). In igneous rocks, the potassium-argon “clock” is set the .
This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature. C is by far the most common isotope, while only about one in a trillion carbon atoms is C C is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen N is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope.
The new isotope is called “radiocarbon” because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous. It is naturally unstable and so it will spontaneously decay back into N after a period of time. It takes about 5, years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen. It takes another 5, for half of the remainder to decay, and then another 5, for half of what’s left then to decay and so on.
The period of time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a “half-life.
Problems with the U-Pb Radioisotope Dating Methods—1. Common Pb
General considerations Distinctions between relative-age and absolute-age measurements Local relationships on a single outcrop or archaeological site can often be interpreted to deduce the sequence in which the materials were assembled. This then can be used to deduce the sequence of events and processes that took place or the history of that brief period of time as recorded in the rocks or soil. For example, the presence of recycled bricks at an archaeological site indicates the sequence in which the structures were built.
Similarly, in geology, if distinctive granitic pebbles can be found in the sediment beside a similar granitic body, it can be inferred that the granite, after cooling, had been uplifted and eroded and therefore was not injected into the adjacent rock sequence. Although with clever detective work many complex time sequences or relative ages can be deduced, the ability to show that objects at two separated sites were formed at the same time requires additional information. A coin, vessel, or other common artifact could link two archaeological sites, but the possibility of recycling would have to be considered.
3. EXPLAIN: Do the Deep Time lesson, which emphasizes why we are so confident of geological age dates. 4. ELABORATE: Do the Virtual Age Dating Tutorial (online), for further reinforcing of half-life concept and how this is applied to dating rocks.
Radiometric dating In , shortly after the discovery of radioactivity , the American chemist Bertram Boltwood suggested that lead is one of the disintegration products of uranium, in which case the older a uranium-bearing mineral the greater should be its proportional part of lead. Analyzing specimens whose relative geologic ages were known, Boltwood found that the ratio of lead to uranium did indeed increase with age. After estimating the rate of this radioactive change, he calculated that the absolute ages of his specimens ranged from million to 2.
Though his figures were too high by about 20 percent, their order of magnitude was enough to dispose of the short scale of geologic time proposed by Lord Kelvin. Versions of the modern mass spectrometer were invented in the early s and s, and during World War II the device was improved substantially to help in the development of the atomic bomb.
Soon after the war, Harold C. Wasserburg applied the mass spectrometer to the study of geochronology. This device separates the different isotopes of the same element and can measure the variations in these isotopic abundances to within one part in 10, By determining the amount of the parent and daughter isotopes present in a sample and by knowing their rate of radioactive decay each radioisotope has its own decay constant , the isotopic age of the sample can be calculated.
For dating minerals and rocks, investigators commonly use the following couplets of parent and daughter isotopes: The SHRIMP Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe enables the accurate determination of the uranium-lead age of the mineral zircon, and this has revolutionized the understanding of the isotopic age of formation of zircon-bearing igneous granitic rocks. Another technological development is the ICP-MS Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer , which is able to provide the isotopic age of the minerals zircon, titanite, rutile, and monazite.
These minerals are common to many igneous and metamorphic rocks.
The Age of the Moon
Paleomagnetic dating[ edit ] A sequence of paleomagnetic poles usually called virtual geomagnetic poles , which are already well defined in age, constitutes an apparent polar wander path APWP. Such path is constructed for a large continental block. APWPs for different continents can be used as a reference for newly obtained poles for the rocks with unknown age.
Age Dating Radiometric dating calculates an age in years for geologic materials by measuring the presence of a short-life radioactive element, e.g., carbon, or a long-life radioactive element plus its decay product, e.g., potassium/argon
A single watch or clock for the entire class will do. Return to top PART 1: After students have decided how to establish the relative age of each rock unit, they should list them under the block, from most recent at the top of the list to oldest at the bottom. The teacher should tell the students that there are two basic principles used by geologists to determine the sequence of ages of rocks.
Younger sedimentary rocks are deposited on top of older sedimentary rocks. Principle of cross-cutting relations: Any geologic feature is younger than anything else that it cuts across. For example, U is an unstable isotope of uranium that has 92 protons and neutrons in the nucl eus of each atom. Through a series of changes within the nucleus, it emits several particles, ending up with 82 protons and neutrons. This is a stable condition, and there are no more changes in the atomic nucleus.
A nucleus with that number of protons is called lead chemical symbol Pb.
Several Christian ministries promote the idea that the earth is less than 10, years old, which they say comes from the Bible. In reality, the Bible makes no claim as to the age of the earth, although it does establish a minimum age. This page examines some of the history of the controversy—what the Bible actually says and does not say—and the scientific evidence surrounding the age of the earth.
Age of the earth according to the Bible The following is a summary of the biblical evidence presented on this website regarding the age of the earth.
PART 1: DETERMINING RELATIVE AGE OF ROCKS Each team of 3 to 5 students should discuss together how to determine the relative age of each of the rock units in the block diagram. After students have decided how to establish the relative age of each rock unit, they should list them under the block, from most recent at the top of the list to oldest at the bottom.
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Thermoluminescence[ edit ] Thermoluminescence testing also dates items to the last time they were heated. This technique is based on the principle that all objects absorb radiation from the environment. This process frees electrons within minerals that remain caught within the item.
Heating an item to degrees Celsius or higher releases the trapped electrons , producing light. This light can be measured to determine the last time the item was heated. Radiation levels do not remain constant over time. Fluctuating levels can skew results — for example, if an item went through several high radiation eras, thermoluminescence will return an older date for the item. Many factors can spoil the sample before testing as well, exposing the sample to heat or direct light may cause some of the electrons to dissipate, causing the item to date younger.
It cannot be used to accurately date a site on its own.
Ice Frozen form of the water molecule. Ice has a specific gravity 0. This difference in specific gravity causes ice to float on water. Ice Age Period of time when glaciers dominate the landscape of the Earth. The last major Ice Age was during the Pleistocene epoch. Iceberg A mass of ice found floating in the ocean or a lake.
Age dating rocks radiometric dating or radioactive dating is a technique used to date first edition moby dick or the white whale materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace dick clark new years live age dating rocks radioactive impurities were selectively.
Mesosiderites Iron meteorites 5. The most common meteorites are chondrites, which are stony meteorites. Radiometric dating of chondrites has placed them at the age of 4. They are considered pristine samples of early solar system matter, although in many cases their properties have been modified by thermal metamorphism or icy alteration. Some meteoriticists have suggested that the different properties found in various chondrites suggest the location in which they were formed.
Enstatite chondrites contain the most refractory elements and are believed to have formed in the inner solar system.
Doesn’t Carbon Dating Prove the Earth Is Old?
Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock—with experiments performed on Mars. The work, led by geochemist Ken Farley of the California Institute of Technology Caltech , could not only help in understanding the geologic history of Mars but also aid in the search for evidence of ancient life on the planet. However, shortly before the rover left Earth in , NASA’s participating scientist program asked researchers from all over the world to submit new ideas for experiments that could be performed with the MSL’s already-designed instruments.
Scientific measurements such as radiometric dating use the natural radioactivity of certain elements found in rocks to help determine their age. Scientists also use direct evidence from observations of the rock layers themselves to help determine the relative age of rock layers. Specific rock formations are indicative of a particular type of environment existing when the rock was being formed.
For example, most limestones represent marine environments, whereas, sandstones with ripple marks might indicate a shoreline habitat or a riverbed. The study and comparison of exposed rock layers or strata in various parts of the earth led scientists in the early 19th century to propose that the rock layers could be correlated from place to place. Locally, physical characteristics of rocks can be compared and correlated.
On a larger scale, even between continents, fossil evidence can help in correlating rock layers. The Law of Superposition, which states that in an undisturbed horizontal sequence of rocks, the oldest rock layers will be on the bottom, with successively younger rocks on top of these, helps geologists correlate rock layers around the world. This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there.
By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out. By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata. This is called relative dating.