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A number of radioactive isotopes are used for this purpose, and depending on the rate of decay, are used for dating different geological periods.More slowly decaying isotopes are useful for longer periods of time, but less accurate in absolute years.Gaining estimates of ages of rocks is crucial for establishing not only the history of geological events but also for determining the rates of geological processes.It is possible to establish the relative order of events in some rocks. The underlying principle is that the probability of an individual radioactive atom breaking down (to create a daughter atom) is constant.Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.
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and is now the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of fossilized life forms or the age of the Earth itself, and can also be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geological time scale.
The science of geochronology is the prime tool used in the discipline of chronostratigraphy, which attempts to derive absolute age dates for all fossil assemblages and determine the geologic history of the Earth and extraterrestrial bodies.
By measuring the amount of radioactive decay of a radioactive isotope with a known half-life, geologists can establish the absolute age of the parent material.
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