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Modern geologists date minerals called zircons, tiny crystals that form in volcanic eruptions and that are hardy enough to survive for billions of years.Zircons consist of silica, oxygen and the element zirconium, but are occasionally contaminated with uranium as they form.They were formed at the same time as our planet and everything else in our solar system, but they have not been changed by the tectonic processes that shape Earth, so they're like time capsules. Geological Survey explains: “The best age for the Earth comes not from dating individual rocks but by considering the Earth and meteorites as part of the same evolving system.” Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the mass spectrometry technique.Our first really solid estimate of the planet's age was obtained from radiometric analysis of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, a giant iron rock that blazed through Earth's atmosphere from space 50,000 years ago and was found by American scientists in 1891. But scientists will keep trying to shave down that degree of uncertainty in their estimate by analyzing every ancient Earth rock, meteorite and solar system sample they can get their hands on. Mass spectrometry is used to determine the composition of a sample by determining the mass and charge of its component parts.To do this, scientists use a technique called mass spectrometry.
) and assuming conduction of heat from the Sun, George Darwin's Orbital Estimate of the Age of the Moon, Salt (Na Cl and other _Cl's) Accumulation of Oceans, Sediment Accumulation with sample calculations, and finally Radiometric Dating Methods.(Native Americans had known about and utilized the iron fragments since prehistoric times.) Researchers used uranium-lead techniques to date the meteorite back 4.54 billion years, give or take about 70 million — the best age for our planet so far, according to the U. Dalrymple has done a wonderful job in writing such a technical work on the history and direct data for the current estimate of the age of the Earth being 4.5 Billion years old and the Universe being 7 - 20 Billion years old.For example, half of a given batch of uranium will decay into lead every 710 million to 4.47 billion years, depending on the isotope used (this number is termed the element's “half-life").That uranium, which was created during a supernova that occurred long before our solar system existed, lingers in trace amounts within the Earth.