Chart of a few different isotope half lifes: In reality, geologists tend to mix and match relative and absolute age dates to piece together a geologic history.
If a rock has been partially melted, or otherwise metamorphosed, that causes complications for radiometric (absolute) age dating as well.
The second method is called absolute dating and is done by analysing the amount of radioactive decay in the minerals of the rocks.
Scientists find out the age of a dinosaur fossil by dating not only the rocks in which it lies, but those below and above it.
It’s based either on fossils which are recognized to represent a particular interval of time, or on radioactive decay of specific isotopes. Based on the Rule of Superposition, certain organisms clearly lived before others, during certain geologic times.
After all, a dinosaur wouldn’t be caught dead next to a trilobite.
That’s because zircon is super tough – it resists weathering. Each radioactive isotope works best for particular applications.