Radiometric dating is least useful for dating

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Since the 1950s, geologists have used radioactive elements as natural "clocks" for determining numerical ages of certain types of rocks. "Forms" means the moment an igneous rock solidifies from magma, a sedimentary rock layer is deposited, or a rock heated by metamorphism cools off.

It's this resetting process that gives us the ability to date rocks that formed at different times in earth history.

All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.

Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

The Grand Canyon landscape is geologically young, being carved within just the last 6 m.y.

There are younger geologic deposits in Grand Canyon too, such as the Ice Age fossils found in caves, a 1000-year-old lava flow in the western canyon, and even the debris flow deposits that continue form each year.

The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah is a great example of Original Horizontality and the Law of Superposition, two important ideas used in relative dating.

Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geological time scale.

Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.

Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.

Though relative dating can only determine the sequential order in which a series of events occurred, not when they occur, it remains a useful technique especially in radiometric dating.

Relative dating by biostratigraphy is the preferred method in paleontology, and is in some respects more accurate (Stanley, 167–69).

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