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While K-Ar dating requires destroying large samples to measure potassium and argon levels separately, Ar-Ar dating can analyze both at once with a single, smaller sample.Uranium series dating: U-series dating includes a number of methods, each based on different uranium isotopes’ decay rates.Researchers can measure the amount of these trapped electrons to establish an age.But to use any trapped charge method, experts first need to calculate the rate at which the electrons were trapped.Unlike observation-based relative dating, most absolute methods require some of the find to be destroyed by heat or other means.This family of dating methods, some more than a century old, takes advantage of the environment’s natural radioactivity.This includes factoring in many variables, such as the amount of radiation the object was exposed to each year.These techniques are accurate only for material ranging from a few thousand to 500,000 years old — some researchers argue the accuracy diminishes significantly after 100,000 years.

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Over time, certain kinds of rocks and organic material, such as coral and teeth, are very good at trapping electrons from sunlight and cosmic rays pummeling Earth.Researchers can first apply an absolute dating method to the layer.They then use that absolute date to establish a relative age for fossils and artifacts in relation to that layer. Anything below the Taupo tephra is earlier than 232; anything above it is later.Before more precise absolute dating tools were possible, researchers used a variety of comparative approaches called relative dating.These methods — some of which are still used today — provide only an approximate spot within a previously established sequence: Think of it as ordering rather than dating.

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