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Accurate measurement of either the absolute or relative abundance of trace quantities of radioactive isotopes requires sophisticated instruments, known as mass spectrometers, and instrument operators who really know what they are doing.
Radiometric dating of metamorphic rocks can be successful, but often the results are difficult to interpret, and in many cases are ambiguous.Isotopes are either stable (do not break down spontaneously) or unstable (spontaneously break down, or decay, by nuclear reactions). However, small quantities of radioactive C-14 are produced in the Earth's upper atmosphere by interaction of cosmic rays with nitrogen according to the following reaction: In radioactive decay reactions, the unstable isotope is referred to as the parent and the element produced by the decay reaction is called the daughter.For each atom of a radioactive isotope there is a fixed and constant probability that it will decay in a fixed period of time.The Geologic Time Scale (courtesy of the Geological Society of America) UC (Berkeley) Museum of Paleontology Exhibit on Geologic Time For an informative description of the historical development of the Geologic Time Scale and the principles of geology that have been used to develop it, please visit the Berkeley Museum of Paleontology web page cited above.I also encourage you to visit the links within the Berkeley page to learn more about the divisions (Eras, Periods, etc.) of the time scale, their stratigraphy, life forms and other useful bits of information. Students will learn about the principles of Stratigraphy and application of various techniques.