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However, sedimentary rocks can be age dated if a volcanic ash horizon or a diabase sill or dyke can be found within the sequence.
These tree ring variations will appear in all trees growing in a certain region, so scientists can match up the growth rings of living and dead trees.
When minerals get subducted into the Earth and come back as volcanic magmas or ash, this essential re-sets the radiometric clock back to zero and therefore a reliable age date is possible.
Sedimentary rocks may have radioactive elements in them, but they have been re-worked from other rocks, so essentially, there radiometric clock has not been re-set back to zero.
Therefore, by measuring the amount of carbon-14 a once-living object retains, scientists can determine its age.
While the radiocarbon dating method can provide close estimations of age, the figures should not be regarded as exact.
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Radioactive elements decay at a certain constant rate and this is the basis of radiometric dating.