Dating Techniques

QUESTION: What is the difference between relative and absolute dating techniques?


In relative dating, something is determined to be older or younger than something else without determining an exact age. According to the laws of superposition, a strategic layer that is higher has been deposited more recently. The oldest strata are at the bottom of the sequence. Age of deposition should not be confused with the date of material enclosed in deposit. Cross dating involves comparing similar artifacts from similar sites that may be of similar age. These artifacts can be placed in order, but requires external information to determine which end of the series is younger or older.

Absolute dating determines the age of artifacts in terms of the number of years before the present, with reference to a fixed time scale. The main approaches to cross dating include annual cycle methods, radioactive clocks, and trapped electron material. Absolute dating uses annual cycles as well such as calendrical-historic record, varves (seasonal lake deposits), and Dendrochronology, which is the measurement of variations in the growth and patterns of thick and thin rings of trees.

Learn More About Radiometric Dating!

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