What materials can be dated with radiocarbon dating

" First, the relative age of a fossil can be determined.Relative dating puts geologic events in chronological order without requiring that a specific numerical age be assigned to each event.Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free.Geologists have established a set of principles that can be applied to sedimentary and volcanic rocks that are exposed at the Earth's surface to determine the relative ages of geological events preserved in the rock record.For example, in the rocks exposed in the walls of the Grand Canyon (Figure 1) there are many horizontal layers, which are called strata.

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Thus, any deformations of strata (Figures 2 and 3) must have occurred after the rock was deposited.The study of strata is called stratigraphy, and using a few basic principles, it is possible to work out the relative ages of rocks.Just as when they were deposited, the strata are mostly horizontal (principle of original horizontality).However, the age of each fossil primate needs to be determined so that fossils of the same age found in different parts of the world and fossils of different ages can be compared.There are three general approaches that allow scientists to date geological materials and answer the question: "How old is this fossil?