Bone dating techniques

This damage is in the form of tiny marks called fission tracks.

When volcanic rocks and minerals are formed, they do not contain fission tracks.

The heat from a volcanic eruption releases all the argon from the molten rock and disperses it into the atmosphere.

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The technique can, however, provide the relative ages of bones from the same site.

Most fossils are found in sedimentary rocks deposited in layers.

Only one sample is required for this method as both the argon-39 and argon-40 can be extracted from the same sample.

In special cases, bones can be compared by measuring chemicals within them.

The level of nitrogen gradually reduces as the bone decays.

Absolute dating is not possible with this method because the rate at which the nitrogen content declines depends on the surrounding temperature, moisture, soil chemicals and bacteria.

The number of tracks increases over time at a rate that depends on the uranium content.

It is possible to calculate the age of a sample by measuring the uranium content and the density of the fission tracks.

This newer method converts a stable form of potassium (potassium-39) into argon-39.

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