There are a large number of different drilling techniques. Three basic types that are most commonly used in mineral exploration. In order of increasing cost, these are auger drilling, rotary percussion drilling and diamond drilling. Auger drilling Selecting the right technique Selecting the right technique or combination of techniques is always a trade-off between speed, cost, required sample quality, sample volume; logistics and environmental considerations. Augering and RAB drilling provide relatively low levels of geological knowledge but are quick and cheap and so are useful principally as geochemical reconnaissance tools for collecting samples below areas of shallow overburden. Large rotary percussion rigs can quickly drill a large-diameter hole — mm with good sample volume and at reasonable cost. They are powerful machines capable of penetrating much deeper and through harder rock than the RAB rig.

Geologic Formations

Determining Relative Geologic Ages You can use principles of relative geologic age to determine sequences of geologic events, including rock formations, intervals of erosion, tilting, folding, and faulting like those represented in the block diagrams and cross-sections below. Be sure to review the principles of relative geologic age on the Geologic Time Basics page.

You can click on each of the images in Part 2 for a larger version in a separate browser window. The figure above is a block diagram represents three horizontal geologic strata layered formations of rock.

potassium-argon dating (geological dating that relies on the proportions of radioactive potassium in a rock sample and its decay product, argon) carbon dating ; carbon dating ; radiocarbon dating (a chemical analysis used to determine the age of organic materials based on their content of the radioisotope carbon; believed to be reliable.

Radioactive decay[ edit ] Example of a radioactive decay chain from lead Pb to lead Pb. The final decay product, lead Pb , is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable.


Valmont Dike Dikes Dikes are formed when magma a mixture of molten material and crystals rises from below and cuts across pre-existing strata. The magma may follow pre-existing cracks or faults, or may create its own path upward. The magma crystallizes underground and becomes a dike, which is a plutonic or intrusive rock. Erosion cuts into the earth and allows us to observe the dikes.

Radiometric dating has been used to determine the ages of the Earth, Moon, meteorites, ages of fossils, including early man, timing of glaciations, ages of mineral deposits, recurrence rates of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the history of reversals of Earth’s magnetic .

What is a geologic map? What are geologic maps and what are they used for? We are a research and service division of: Geologic maps are uniquely suited to solving problems involving Earth resources, hazards, and environments. Geologic maps represent the distribution of different types of rock and surficial deposits, as well as locations of geologic structures such as faults and folds.

Geologic maps are the primary source of information for various aspects of land-use planning, including the siting of buildings and transportation systems. And perhaps most importantly for the people of New Mexico, such maps help identify ground-water aquifers, aid in locating water-supply wells, and assist in locating potential polluting operations, such as landfills, safely away from the aquifers.

Radiocarbon Dating and Archaeology

At the time that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be million years old. By , it was found to be 1. In , science firmly established that the earth was 3. Finally in , it was discovered that the earth is “really” 4. In these early studies the order of sedimentary rocks and structures were used to date geologic time periods and events in a relative way.

Geochronology is different in application from biostratigraphy, which is the science of assigning sedimentary rocks to a known geological period via describing, cataloguing and comparing fossil floral and faunal assemblages.

The Radiometric Dating Game Radiometric dating methods estimate the age of rocks using calculations based on the decay rates of radioactive elements such as uranium, strontium, and potassium. On the surface, radiometric dating methods appear to give powerful support to the statement that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years. We are told that these methods are accurate to a few percent, and that there are many different methods.

We are told that of all the radiometric dates that are measured, only a few percent are anomalous. This gives us the impression that all but a small percentage of the dates computed by radiometric methods agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found, and that all of these various methods almost always give ages that agree with each other to within a few percentage points.

Since there doesn’t seem to be any systematic error that could cause so many methods to agree with each other so often, it seems that there is no other rational conclusion than to accept these dates as accurate. However, this causes a problem for those who believe based on the Bible that life has only existed on the earth for a few thousand years, since fossils are found in rocks that are dated to be over million years old by radiometric methods, and some fossils are found in rocks that are dated to be billions of years old.

If these dates are correct, this calls the Biblical account of a recent creation of life into question.

Types of Isotopes & Their Uses

The system was created by Willard Libby in the late s and soon turned into a standard apparatus for archeologists. Libby got the Nobel Prize for his work in The radiocarbon dating technique depends on the way that radiocarbon is always being made in the air by the connection of inestimable beams with air nitrogen. The subsequent radiocarbon consolidates with barometrical oxygen to frame radioactive carbon dioxide, which is fused into plants by photosynthesis; creatures then procure 14C by eating the plants.

At the point when the creature or plant passes on, it quits trading carbon with its surroundings, and starting there onwards the measure of 14C it contains starts to decrease as the 14C experiences radioactive rot.

Geologic age dating is an entire discipline of its own. In a way, this field, called geochronology, is some of the purest detective work earth scientists do. There are two basic approaches: relative geologic age dating, and absolute geologic age dating.

Last Edited January 26, For centuries people have argued about the age of the Earth; only recently has it been possible to come close to achieving reliable estimates. Geological Dating For centuries people have argued about the age of the Earth; only recently has it been possible to come close to achieving reliable estimates.

In the 19th century some geologists realized that the vast thicknesses of sedimentary rocks meant that the Earth must be at least hundreds of millions of years old. On the other hand, the great physicist Lord Kelvin vehemently objected and suggested that the Earth might only be a few tens of millions of years old, based on his calculations of its cooling history. These discussions were rendered obsolete by the discovery of radioactivity in by the French physicist Henri Becquerel.

The existence of radioactivities of various kinds in rocks has enabled earth scientists to determine the age of the Earth, the moon, meteorites, mountain chains and ocean basins, and to draw up a reasonably accurate time scale of evolution.


Do you see this? As explained in your lab manual, dip is measured relative to a horizontal plane. The strata in the photograph dip about 10o to the west. We would state that the dip is 10o W 10 degrees West. Now let’s visit the Lower Ugab valley in Namibia. If you can’t fly there in person!

This uses two types of rocks are unstable and absolute dating puts geological dating techniques are younger or calendar of rocks from. This field, we know the .

Unlike the radioactive isotopes discussed above, these isotopes are constantly being replenished in small amounts in one of two ways. The bottom two entries, uranium and thorium , are replenished as the long-lived uranium atoms decay. These will be discussed in the next section. The other three, Carbon , beryllium , and chlorine are produced by cosmic rays–high energy particles and photons in space–as they hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Very small amounts of each of these isotopes are present in the air we breathe and the water we drink. As a result, living things, both plants and animals, ingest very small amounts of carbon , and lake and sea sediments take up small amounts of beryllium and chlorine The cosmogenic dating clocks work somewhat differently than the others. Carbon in particular is used to date material such as bones, wood, cloth, paper, and other dead tissue from either plants or animals.

To a rough approximation, the ratio of carbon to the stable isotopes, carbon and carbon , is relatively constant in the atmosphere and living organisms, and has been well calibrated.

Relative Geologic Dating