- Relative and absolute ages in the histories of Earth and the Moon: The Geologic Time Scale
- Difference Between Absolute and Relative Dating
- What is the difference between absolute age and relative age of fossils?
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A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research. In the science of geology, there are two main ways we use to describe how old a thing is or how long ago an event took place.
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Difference Between Absolute and Relative Dating
The main difference between absolute and relative dating is that the absolute dating is a technique to determine the numerical age of a rock or a fossil whereas the relative dating is a technique that determines the relative age. Furthermore, absolute dating can be done with the use of radiometric dating while relative age is determined with respect to other layers.
Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events i. In geology, rock or superficial deposits , fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another. Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating in the early 20th century, which provided a means of absolute dating , archaeologists and geologists used relative dating to determine ages of materials.
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What is the difference between absolute age and relative age of fossils?
Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find. They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.
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Geologists routinely work in millions and billions of years , so normal calendars and methods of representing spans of time don't always work very well. Fortunately, being as clever as they are, geologists have managed to come up with other ways. Ever since the first human looked at a piece of the earth and wondered about it, we have been assigning a relative order to the events which have taken place.
An absolute age is one determined usually by mass-spectrometry where an isotope is measured and then an age can be calculated a very very basic explanation. So in the end you can say this fossil is 50 thousand years old always with an associated uncertainty. We can absolute date materials but it will always have an uncertainty range, we can never know the age with infinite precision. Relative dating is like looking at a multi-layered cake. The base layer must come first, then the second and then the third. So I can say the second layer is younger than the first and older than the third but I have no idea whether the cake is 5 minutes or 5 million years old.