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Keyed to the relative time scale are examples of index fossils, the forms of life which existed during limited periods of geologic time and thus are used as guides to the age of the rocks in which they are preserved.
William "Strata" Smith, a civil engineer and surveyor, was well acquainted with areas in southern England where "limestone and shales are layered like slices of bread and butter." His hobby of collecting and cataloging fossil shells from these rocks led to the discovery that certain layers contained fossils unlike those in other layers.
A short but clear explanation about radioactive isotopes commonly used for determining ages of rocks (with graphics) and putting numbers on the geologic time scale, extending it back before the occurance of abundant index fossils.
This is a relatively new method intended to to improve the precision of uranium and thorium istopy methods.
The Major Divisions of Geologic Time are shown here, arranged in chronological order with the oldest division at the bottom, the youngest at the top. Specifically, stratigraphy refers to the application of the Law of Superposition to soil and geological strata containing archaeological materials in order to determine the relative ages of layers.
Trees from the same species, growing in the same area or environment will be exposed to the same conditions, and hence their growth rings will match at the point where their lifecycles overlap.
Earth's oldest living inhabitant "Methuselah" at 4,767 years, has lived more than a millennium longer than any other tree.
This is made up of numerous regional tree-ring chronologies, particularly in the medieval and post-medieval periods, for which the laboratory now has more than 200 reference chronologies from many areas. By comparing the proportion of K-40 to Ar-40 in a sample of volcanic rock, and knowing the decay rate of K-40, the date that the rock formed can be determined.
There are over 130 radiocarbon dating laboratories around the world producing radiocarbon assays for the scientific community. A series of movie clips walks you through the process.[ While this may be true, a shrub in Tasmania could be 40,000 years old.See Oldest Living Organism.] The Sheffield Laboratory now has a continuous master sequence for England going back to about 5000BC. This article should be a "must read" for any person interested in factualy accurate information on dating methods.Because of the distortions and lies spread by fundamentalists about scientific dating there is a need for a centralized source of information on the topic.