Absolute vs relative age dating

Without absolute ages, investigators could only determine which fossil organisms lived at the same time and the relative order of their appearance in the correlated sedimentary rock record.Unlike ages derived from fossils, which occur only in sedimentary rocks, absolute ages are obtained from minerals that grow as liquid rock bodies cool at or below the surface.The two approaches are often complementary, as when a sequence of occurrences in one context can be correlated with an absolute chronlogy elsewhere.Local relationships on a single outcrop or archaeological site can often be interpreted to deduce the sequence in which the materials were assembled.

Radiometric dating and certain other approaches are used to provide absolute chronologies in terms of years before the present.This then can be used to deduce the sequence of events and processes that took place or the history of that brief period of time as recorded in the rocks or soil.For example, the presence of recycled bricks at an archaeological site indicates the sequence in which the structures were built.Dating, in geology, determining a chronology or calendar of events in the history of Earth, using to a large degree the evidence of organic evolution in the sedimentary rocks accumulated through geologic time in marine and continental environments.To date past events, processes, formations, and fossil organisms, geologists employ a variety of techniques.

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The same margin of error applies for younger fossiliferous rocks, making absolute dating comparable in precision to that attained using fossils.

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