Abosolute dating

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To avoid confusion later on, let us say at once that the "absolute" in "absolute dating" is not short for "absolutely correct".

There is no particular reason to suspect that this will turn out to be the case when it comes to the laws underlying absolute dating; nonetheless, an argument from principle alone can never be entirely convincing. You will recall from our discussion of sea floor spreading that the sea floor spreads out from mid-ocean rifts, and so ought to be younger nearer the rifts and progressively older further away from them.In the articles on stratigraphy we looked at what is called relative dating, where we could say that one geological feature was older or younger than another but without actually putting dates on them.By contrast, absolute dating allows us to assign dates to geological features.All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.Radioactive elements are unstable; they breakdown spontaneously into more stable atoms over time, a process known as radioactive decay.

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