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By measuring the amount of radioactive decay of a radioactive isotope with a known half-life, geologists can establish the absolute age of the parent material.A number of radioactive isotopes are used for this purpose, and depending on the rate of decay, are used for dating different geological periods.
By combining multiple geochronological (and biostratigraphic) indicators the precision of the recovered age can be improved.At Earth's surface most of these nuclides are produced by neutron spallation.Archaeological science, also known as archaeometry, consists of the application of scientific techniques to the analysis of archaeological materials, to assist in dating the materials. Martinón-Torres and Killick distinguish ‘scientific archaeology’ (as an epistemology) from ‘archaeological science’ (the application of specific techniques to archaeological materials).Surface exposure dating is used to date glacial advances and retreats, erosion history, lava flows, meteorite impacts, rock slides, fault scarps, and other geological events.It is most useful for rocks which have been exposed for between 10 years and 30,000,000 years.
When one of these particles strikes an atom it can dislodge one or more protons and/or neutrons from that atom, producing a different element or a different isotope of the original element.