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How do absolute dating and relative dating differ

Absolute age is a quantitative measurement while relative age is a qualitative measurement. Absolute dating works better for igneous and metamorphic rocks while relative dating works better for sedimentary rocks having layered arrangement of sediments. Absolute dating is expensive and takes time while relative dating is less-expensive and efficient. Absolute dating is the technique that determines the exact age of a historical remaining while relative dating gives the order of age of several samples.

Therefore, absolute dating is a quantitative measurement while relative dating is a qualitative measurement.

What is Absolute Dating

To find their age, two major geological dating methods are used. These are called relative and absolute dating techniques. Absolute dating, also called numerical dating, arranges the historical remains in order of their ages. Whereas, relative dating arranges them in the geological order of their formation.

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The relative dating techniques are very effective when it comes to radioactive isotope or radiocarbon dating. However, not all fossils or remains contain such elements. Relative techniques are of great help in such types of sediments. The following are the major methods of relative dating.

What is Relative Dating

The oldest dating method which studies the successive placement of layers. It is based on the concept that the lowest layer is the oldest and the topmost layer is the youngest. An extended version of stratigraphy where the faunal deposits are used to establish dating. Faunal deposits include remains and fossils of dead animals.

This method compares the age of remains or fossils found in a layer with the ones found in other layers.

Relative Vs. Absolute Dating: The Ultimate Face-off

The comparison helps establish the relative age of these remains. Bones from fossils absorb fluorine from the groundwater. The amount of fluorine absorbed indicates how long the fossil has been buried in the sediments. The absolute dating is also sometimes referred as the relative numerical dating as it comes with the exact age of the object. The absolute dating is more reliable than the relative dating, which merely puts the different events in the time order and explains one using the other.

Relative Vs. Absolute Dating: The Ultimate Face-off

The radiometric dating is another crucial technique through which the exact age can be obtained. In radiometric dating, the radioactive minerals within the rocks are used to know about the age of the object or the sites.


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Absolute Dating 6 Explanatory Video. No comments yet Add Your Comment Cancel reply. The relative dating is the technique used to know that which object or item is older in comparison to the other one. The absolute dating is the technique which tells about the exact age of the artifact or the site using the methods like carbon dating.


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In relative dating techniques like stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are used to know which of the object is older.