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Science and the Environment

Dating a Rock: A Hard Endeavor

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When one studies the processes at work in the earth, it is difficult to recreate the requisite conditions in the lab.  What one lacks most is time, as building rocks and mountains takes eons to complete.  In their quest to understand the mechanisms behind these geological events, scientists must know the times at which the pieces of the puzzle were first formed.  To do so requires complicated dating techniques, combining field work to obtain the specimens and lab work to acquire and analyze the relevant data.  Dr. Matt McKay, a geologist at Missouri State, does just that, tracking the relative concentrations of radioactive parents and daughters to date rocks over millions of years. Listen in as he discusses the nuts and bolts of the clocks inside the rocks.