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Which of these does a better job of describing my age? So, in both geology and paleontology, we want to be able to point to an object and say exactly how old it is.
To do that, we have to learn a little bit about radioactive decay.
Free 5-day trial Learn how scientists determine the ages of rocks and fossils.
We'll explore both relative and numerical dating on our quest to understand the process of geological dating.
Scientists piece together a story of how one event came before or after another.
Relative dating cannot tell us the actual age of a rock; it can only tell us whether one rock is older or younger than another.
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He could be pretty confident that his super awesome dinosaur was about 175 million years old.
Stratigraphic and fossil succession are good tools for studying the relative dates of events in Earth's history, but they do not help with numerical dating.
Again, this doesn't tell them exactly how old the layers are, but it does give them an idea of the ordered sequence of events that occurred over the history of that geologic formation.
Sort of an offshoot of stratigraphic succession is fossil succession, or a method in which scientists compare fossils in different rock strata to determine the relative ages of each.
In 1896, a French physicist named Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity in an element called uranium.