The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements.Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms." When molten rock cools, forming what are called igneous rocks, radioactive atoms are trapped inside. By measuring the quantity of unstable atoms left in a rock and comparing it to the quantity of stable daughter atoms in the rock, scientists can estimate the amount of time that has passed since that rock formed.
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So in order to date most older fossils, scientists look for layers of igneous rock or volcanic ash above and below the fossil.
Scientists date igneous rock using elements that are slow to decay, such as uranium and potassium.
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Feb 02, · Why is it almost impossible to date sedimentary rocks using radiometric dating very difficult to sort Radiometric date of sedimentary rock? Why is radiometric dating a reliable method for determining numerical ages? This method uses exactly the same parent and daughter isotopes as the potassium-argon method.