Relative age dating exercise

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Sedimentary rock is made of particles derived from other rocks, so measuring isotopes would date the original rock material, not the sediments they have ended up in.

Isotopes are important to geologists because each radioactive element decays at a constant rate, which is unique to that element.

Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.

They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.

All radiometric dating methods measure isotopes in some way.

Most directly measure the amount of isotopes in rocks, using a mass spectrometer.

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For example, fission track dating measures the microscopic marks left in crystals by subatomic particles from decaying isotopes.

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