1946 In 1946, Willard Libby proposed an innovative method for dating organic materials by measuring their content of carbon-14, a newly discovered radioactive isotope of carbon. Known as radiocarbon dating, this method provides objective age estimates for carbon-based objects that originated from living organisms.
To establish the age of a rock or a fossil, researchers use some type of clock to determine the date it was formed. Geologists commonly use radiometric dating methods, based on the natural radioactive decay of certain elements such as potassium and carbon, as reliable clocks to date ancient events.
When you radiometrically date a mineral grain you are determining when it crystallized. Thus, you would like to use rocks whose crystals are roughly the same age. The easiest are igneous rocks in which all crystals are roughly the same age, having solidified at about the same time.