Radiometric dating geochronology

The first step in teaching effectively about any topic is determining what your learning goals are for your students.

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To date past events, processes, formations, and fossil organisms, geologists employ a variety of techniques.

These include some that establish a relative chronology in which occurrences can be placed in the correct sequence relative to one another or to some known succession of events.

Some method of correlating rock units must be found.

In the ideal case, the geologist will discover a single rock unit with a unique collection of easily observed attributes called a marker horizon that can be found at widely spaced localities.

By mid-century the fossiliferous strata of Europe had been grouped into systems arrayed in chronological order.

The stratigraphic column, a composite of these systems, was pieced together from exposures in different regions by application of the principles…

Acknowledging the challenges of radiometric dating, while explaining how scientists know what we know, deepens our students' understanding both of geochronology and of science.

Mark Schmitz and Karen Viskupic at Boise State University have put together several slide sets that explain and show, in detail, how U-Pb geochronology is done .

Although with clever detective work many complex time sequences or relative ages can be deduced, the ability to show that objects at two separated sites were formed at the same time requires additional information.

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