Methods for volcanic dating

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Without absolute ages, investigators could only determine which fossil organisms lived at the same time and the relative order of their appearance in the correlated sedimentary rock record.Unlike ages derived from fossils, which occur only in sedimentary rocks, absolute ages are obtained from minerals that grow as liquid rock bodies cool at or below the surface.The two approaches are often complementary, as when a sequence of occurrences in one context can be correlated with an absolute chronlogy elsewhere.Local relationships on a single outcrop or archaeological site can often be interpreted to deduce the sequence in which the materials were assembled.By contrast, crustal destruction occurs at the margins of two colliding continents, as, for example, where the subcontinent of India is moving north over Asia.Great uplift, accompanied by rapid erosion, is taking place and large sediment fans are being deposited in the Indian Ocean to the south.

In fact, even in younger rocks, absolute dating is the only way that the fossil record can be calibrated.Continents move, carried on huge slabs, or plates, of dense rock about 100 km (62 miles) thick over a low-friction, partially melted zone (the asthenosphere) below.In the oceans, new seafloor, created at the globe-circling oceanic ridges, moves away, cools, and sinks back into the mantle in what are known as subduction zones (i.e., long, narrow belts at which one plate descends beneath another).This then can be used to deduce the sequence of events and processes that took place or the history of that brief period of time as recorded in the rocks or soil.For example, the presence of recycled bricks at an archaeological site indicates the sequence in which the structures were built.

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