The development of Atomic Absorption Mass Spectrometry in recent years, a technique that allows one to count the individual atoms of 14C remaining in a sample instead of measuring the radioactive decay of the 14C, has considerably broadened the applicability of radiocarbon dating because it is now possible to date much smaller samples, as small as a grain of rice, for example.

I thought it would be useful to present an example where the geology is simple, and unsurprisingly, the method does work well, to show the quality of data that would have to be invalidated before a major revision of the geologic time scale could be accepted by conventional scientists.

Geochronologists do not claim that radiometric dating is foolproof (no scientific method is), but it does work reliably for most samples.

These strata are often most visible in canyons or gorges which are good sites to find and identify fossils.

Understanding the geologic history of an area and the different strata is important to interpreting and understanding archaeological findings.

This principle presumes that the oldest layer of a stratigraphic sequence will be on the bottom and the most recent, or youngest, will be on the top.

The earliest-known hominids in East Africa are often found in very specific stratigraphic contexts that have implications for their relative dating.

It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their , and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already (refer to "Other Sources" for more information).

As an example of how they are used, radiometric dates from geologically simple, fossiliferous Cretaceous rocks in western North America are compared to the geological time scale.

They do not, however, give "absolute" dates because they merely provide a statistical probability that a given date falls within a certain range of age expressed in years.