Radiometric method for dating volcanic deposits
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: chronometric dating; absolute dates; absolute chronology; absolute age determination (antonym: relative dating)CATEGORY: chronology; technique DEFINITION: The determination of age with reference to a specific time scale, such as a fixed calendrical system or in years before present (B.
P., BP), based on measurable physical and chemical qualities or historical associations such as coins and written records.
The Grand Canyon landscape is geologically young, being carved within just the last 6 m.y.
But it can escape into the surrounding region when the right conditions are met, such as change in pressure and/or temperature.
Nonetheless, how geologists determine the age of rocks is a mystery to many members of the public, and even to many park rangers [see Photo 2], guides, and others who share the canyon’s geologic story with others. ” when geologists say a Grand Canyon rock formed 270 million years ago.
Further confusion arises when one publication or geologist says, for example, that the Kaibab Formation is 270 m.y. The same questions arise for the other rock units at Grand Canyon. This article will answer these questions by providing a short primer on geologic dating methods and how they were applied to Grand Canyon rocks.
We then describe Grand Canyon rocks as belonging to three “sets,” or packages of rocks, each with unique geologic histories, and present a compilation of “best” numeric ages for Grand Canyon rocks to use when explaining Grand Canyon geology to the public.
Photo 1: Many people consider Grand Canyon National Park the world’s premiere geologic landscape and a “geologic wonder”.