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For example, fission track dating measures the microscopic marks left in crystals by subatomic particles from decaying isotopes.Another example is luminescence dating, which measures the energy from radioactive decay that is trapped inside nearby crystals.Sedimentary rock is made of particles derived from other rocks, so measuring isotopes would date the original rock material, not the sediments they have ended up in.However, there are radiometric dating methods that can be used on sedimentary rock, including luminescence dating.The table below shows characteristics of some common radiometric dating methods.Geologists choose a dating method that suits the materials available in their rocks. Measuring isotopes is particularly useful for dating igneous and some metamorphic rock, but not sedimentary rock.
These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.
Because of the fairly fast decay rate of carbon-14, it can only be used on material up to about 60,000 years old.
Geologists use radiocarbon to date such materials as wood and pollen trapped in sediment, which indicates the date of the sediment itself.
This is different to relative dating, which only puts geological events in time Most absolute dates for rocks are obtained with radiometric methods.
These use radioactive minerals in rocks as geological clocks.