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Many of these samples have not had so intense nor so complex histories as the oldest Earth rocks, and they commonly record events nearer or equal to the time of formation of the planets.The third approach, and the one that scientists think gives the most accurate age for the Earth, the other planets, and the Solar System, is to determine model lead ages for the Earth, the Moon, and meteorites.Before reviewing briefly the evidence for the age of the Earth, I emphasize that the formation of the Solar System and the Earth was not an instantaneous event but occurred over a finite period as a result of processes set in motion when the universe formed.

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Literally many tens of thousands of radiometric age measurements are documented in the scientific literature.

Since beginning operation in the early 1960s, the Geochronology laboratories of the U. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, have C ages.

Three basic approaches are used to determine the age of the Earth.

The first is to search for and date the oldest rocks exposed on the surface of the Earth.

These oldest rocks are metamorphic rocks with earlier but now erased histories, so the ages obtained in this way are minimum ages for the Earth.

Because the Earth formed as part of the Solar System, a second approach is to date extraterrestrial objects, i.e., meteorites and samples from the Moon.All the major continents contain a core of very old rocks fringed by younger rocks.These cores, called Precambrian shields, are all that remain of the Earth’s oldest crust.Add to this number the age measurements made by from 50 to 100 other laboratories worldwide, and it is easy to see that the number of radiometric ages produced over the past two to three decades and published in the scientific literature must easily exceed 100,000.Taken as a whole, these data clearly prove that the Earth’s history extends backward from the present to at least 3.8 billion years into the past.The rocks in these shields are mostly metamorphic, meaning they have been changed from other rocks into their present form by great heat and pressure beneath the surface; most have been through more than one metamorphism and have had very complex histories.

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