He noted that different formations contained different fossils and he could map one formation from another by the differences in the fossils.
Divisions in the geological time scales still use fossil evidence and mark major changes in the dominance of particular life forms.
For example, the Devonian Period is known as the 'Age of Fishes', as fish began to flourish at this stage.
It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration. Precision is enhanced if measurements are taken on multiple samples from different locations of the rock body.
Alternatively, if several different minerals can be dated from the same sample and are assumed to be formed by the same event and were in equilibrium with the reservoir when they formed, they should form an isochron. In uranium-lead dating, the concordia diagram is used which also decreases the problem of nuclide loss.
For example, decay of the parent isotope Rb-87 (Rubidium) produces a stable daughter isotope, Sr-87 (Strontium), while releasing a beta particle (an electron from the nucleus).
("87" is the atomic mass number = protons neutrons.Accurate radiometric dating generally requires that the parent has a long enough half-life that it will be present in significant amounts at the time of measurement (except as described below under "Dating with short-lived extinct radionuclides"), the half-life of the parent is accurately known, and enough of the daughter product is produced to be accurately measured and distinguished from the initial amount of the daughter present in the material.The procedures used to isolate and analyze the parent and daughter nuclides must be precise and accurate.For instance, carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years.After an organism has been dead for 60,000 years, so little carbon-14 is left that accurate dating can not be established.Over hundreds to thousands of millions of years, continents, oceans and mountain ranges have moved vast distances both vertically and horizontally.