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His geological cross-section may look something like Figure 2.
Clearly, Sedimentary Rocks A were deposited and deformed before the Volcanic Dyke intruded them.
Phrased simply, radioactive dating is the method that uses measurements relating to the radioactivity of the atoms in a fossil or an artifact. What "decay" means is that the atoms in the object or body become unstable, and, over time, begin to "decompose" by giving off radiation in the forms of subatomic particles (such as electrons and protons).
There are different types of radiation: specifically, gamma, alpha and beta radiation. This process of radioactive decay eventually leads to the atoms becoming a different element and achieving stability.
These were then eroded and Sedimentary Rocks B were deposited.
The geologist may have found some fossils in Sedimentary Rocks A and discovered that they are similar to fossils found in some other rocks in the region.
This is a very extensive decay rate, but is still useful to scientists.
Much in the same way used to approximate the age of organic fossils, scientists use uranium-238's decay rate and the uranium-238 to lead-206 (which it decays into) ratio to approximate an age to assign to the object.
From the mapped field relationships, it is a simple matter to work out a geological cross-section and the relative timing of the geologic events.
For example, in decomposing organic bodies - such as an animal carcass - carbon-14, an isotope of carbon, is present.