Absolute Dating

∞ generated and posted on 2015.12.27 ∞

Means of assigning a specific age to a fossil or to other remains.

Absolute Dating is a means of determining the age of ancient materials without direct comparison to the age of other, potentially associated ancient materials.

Note that the term "specific" is not meant to imply without error` but instead of a specific quantity, such as in years. This is rather than a dating scheme that results in declarations such as that fossil A is older than fossil B, a process which instead is described as relative dating.

Absolute dating requires a clock, and there are various clocks available, the most common of which are based on radioactive decay, that is, radiometric dating.

Absolute dating can and often is combined with relative dating. In this case, for example, if it is possible to absolute date two layers of strata, one layer found above and one layer found below a fossil of interest. In this case it is possible to bracket the age of that fossil between these two extremes.

Combining absolute dating with relative dating, by the way, is why layers of volcanic ash are so coveted by paleontologists since volcanic ash is readily dated using radiometric means.


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