skip to content »

Pb pb dating

Present evidence indicates, however, that these intervals were rather short (100-200 million years) in comparison with the length of time that has elapsed since the Solar System formed some 4 to 5 billion years ago.

Slowly and painstakingly, geologists have assembled this record into the generalized geologic time scale shown in Figure 1.With the development of modern radiometric dating methods in the late 1940s and 1950s, it was possible for the first time not only to measure the lengths of the eras, periods, and epochs but also to check the relative order of these geologic time units.Radiometric dating verified that the relative time scale determined by stratigraphers and paleontologists (Figure 1) is absolutely correct, a result that could only have been obtained if both the relative time scale and radiometric dating methods were correct.The last modification to the geologic time scale of Figure 1 was in the 1930s, before radiometric dating was fully developed, when the Oligocene Epoch was inserted between the Eocene and the Miocene.Although early stratigraphers could determine the relative order of rock units and fossils, they could only estimate the lengths of time involved by observing the rates of present geologic processes and comparing the rocks produced by those processes with those preserved in the stratigraphic record.Before reviewing briefly the evidence for the age of the Earth, I emphasize that the formation of the Solar System and the Earth was not an instantaneous event but occurred over a finite period as a result of processes set in motion when the universe formed.

It is, therefore, more correct to talk about formational intervals rather than discrete ages for the Solar System and the Earth.

This was done by observing the relative age sequence of rock units in a given area and determining, from stratigraphic relations, which rock units are younger, which are older, and what assemblages of fossils are contained in each unit.

Using fossils to correlate from area to area, geologists have been able to work out a relative worldwide order of rock formations and to divide the rock record and geologic time into the eras, periods, and epochs shown in Figure 1.

All the major continents contain a core of very old rocks fringed by younger rocks.

These cores, called Precambrian shields, are all that remain of the Earth’s oldest crust.

This method is thought to represent the time when lead isotopes were last homogeneously distributed throughout the Solar System and, thus, the time that the planetary bodies were segregated into discrete chemical systems.