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How to use radiometric dating

The simplest situation for a geologist is a "layer cake" succession of sedimentary or extrusive igneous rock units arranged in nearly horizontal layers.In such a situation, the "principle of superposition" is easily applied, and the strata towards the bottom are older, those towards the top are younger.There are situations where it potentially fails -- for example, in cave deposits.In this situation, the cave contents are younger than both the bedrock below the cave and the suspended roof above.Despite this, the "principle of cross cutting relationships" can be used to determine the sequence of deposition, folds, and faults based on their intersections -- if folds and faults deform or cut across the sedimentary layers and surfaces, then they obviously came after deposition of the sediments.You can't deform a structure (e.g., bedding) that is not there yet!

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For example, wave ripples have their pointed crests on the "up" side, and more rounded troughs on the "down" side.Much of the Earth's geology consists of successional layers of different rock types, piled one on top of another.The most common rocks observed in this form are sedimentary rocks (derived from what were formerly sediments), and extrusive igneous rocks (e.g., lavas, volcanic ash, and other formerly molten rocks extruded onto the Earth's surface).his document discusses the way radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are used to establish the conventional geological time scale.It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their , and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already (refer to "Other Sources" for more information).The example used here contrasts sharply with the way conventional scientific dating methods are characterized by some critics (for example, refer to discussion in "Common Creationist Criticisms of Mainstream Dating Methods" in the Age of the Earth FAQ and Isochron Dating FAQ).A common form of criticism is to cite geologically complicated situations where the application of radiometric dating is very challenging.Geochronologists do not claim that radiometric dating is foolproof (no scientific method is), but it does work reliably for most samples.It is these highly consistent and reliable samples, rather than the tricky ones, that have to be falsified for "young Earth" theories to have any scientific plausibility, not to mention the need to falsify huge amounts of evidence from other techniques.It can't float in mid-air, particularly if the material involved is sand, mud, or molten rock.The principle of superposition therefore has a clear implication for the age of a vertical succession of strata.

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