Today, environmental change, global warming, and so on are household words.
Relative dating has been practiced for nearly 200 years, arising from the observation that different layers of sedimentary rock contain different fossils, and that this sequence can be recognized in other rocks at other localities, even those far away.
The time necessary for half of any given amount of one element (the “parent element”) to decay to become another element (the “daughter element”) is called the element’s “half-life.” Ice cores, for example, contain data about Earth’s past climate.
Geologists use a dating technique called K-Ar geochronology to find the age of layers of volcanic ash in ice cores. By measuring the ratio of K to Ar in feldspar crystals in volcanic ash, geologists can determine the time of the eruption and, thus, the age of ice in which the ash is found. Heating causes the kernels to begin popping, thereby starting your simulated “radioactive decay clock” and producing popped “daughter” popcorns.
Paleontology can potentially provide much data on the evolutionary relationships of organisms, which in turn gives a deeper understanding of biodiversity.
Paleontologists deal with two types of dating, absolute and relative.