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Geological dating techniques of earth

Variations in climate produced observable differences in the thickness of sediments, and, like the patterns of variation in tree rings, this allows matches to be made between deposits in separate lake beds.Microscopic wind-blown pollen grains survive well in many soil conditions, and pollen that has accumulated in deep deposits - such as peat-bogs - can provide a long-term record of changes in vegetation; suitable samples may be collected from soils exposed by excavation, or from cores extracted from bogs.

Petrie used sequence dating to work back from the earliest historical phases of Egypt into pre-dynastic Neolithic times, using groups of contemporary artefacts deposited together at a single time in graves.It has been recognised since at least the fifteenth century that trees produce annual growth rings - their physiology was understood by the eighteenth century - and that they could be counted to calculate the age of a tree when it was felled.Because the thickness of these rings is affected by annual climatic factors, distinctive sequences of rings may be recognised in different samples of timber and used to establish their contemporaneity.Cores extracted from ocean floor deposits reveal variations in oxygen isotopes in the shells and skeletal material of dead marine creatures, which reflect fluctuations in global temperature and the volume of the ocean.Sections cut through lake beds in glacial regions reveal a regular annual pattern of coarse and fine layers, known as varves.ESR does not release trapped electrons, but subjects them to electromagnetic radiation in a magnetic field, which causes electrons to resonate and absorb electromagnetic power.

The strength of resonance reflects the number of electrons that have become trapped since the crystals were formed.

Potassium-argon is ideal for dating early hominid fossils in East Africa, for they occur in an area that was volcanically active when the fossils were deposited between one and five million years ago; pioneering results in the 1950s doubled previous estimates of their age.

This method involves counting microscopic tracks caused by fragments derived from fission of uranium-238 in glassy minerals, whether geological or of human manufacture.

Radiocarbon dating has grown exponentially, and many problems and inaccuracies have been isolated and examined, some leading to major adjustments of the results.

Without doubt, it has made the greatest single contribution to the development of archaeology since geologists and prehistorians escaped from the constraints of historical chronology in the nineteenth century.

It must be made clear at the outset that typology is not, strictly speaking, a dating method, but a means of placing artefacts into some kind of order.