Difference Between Relative Dating and Absolute Dating

Main difference

In the field of Geology, dating is an important term and it is a technique through which the evaluation regarding the age and period of fossil remains, archaeologists make valuable objects and artifacts. In the beginning, there were not many dating methods available, but now, with the advancement of technology, we have mainly two types of techniques to determine the ages of ancient belongings. Relative dating and absolute dating are two types of techniques that are being practiced to determine the age of fossils, objects, or civilizations. Relative dating is the technique of Geology by which the age is determined in relation to other objects. In other words, we can say that in relative dating the archaeologist determines which of the two fossils or artifacts is older. Contrary to this, absolute dating is the technique,

Comparison chart

relative quotes Absolute Quotes
Definition Relative dating is the technique used to find out which object or item is older compared to the other. Absolute dating is the technique that reports the exact age of the artifact or site using methods such as carbon dating.
Other names There is no other name. Also known as numerical dating.
Methods In relative dating, techniques such as stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are used to find out which of the objects is older. Methods such as radiometric dating, carbon dating, and the trapped electron method are used.

What are relative dating?

Relative dating is the technique of determining the age of artifacts, rocks, or even sites while comparing them to each other. In relative dating, the exact age of the object is not known; the only thing made clear by using this is which of the two artifacts is older. Relative dating is a less advanced technique compared to absolute dating. In relative dating, primarily common sense principles apply, and one artifact or object is said to be older than the other. Most commonly, the ancient factors of rocks or objects are examined using the method called stratigraphy. In other words, we can say that the age in relative dating is determined by witnessing the depositional layers or the rocks. Since the word relative says to define the object with respect to the other object, It will be pertinent to mention here that in this type of dating no real numerical dates of the rocks or sites are known. Apart from rocks, fossils are the other most important elements in relative dating, since many organisms have remained in sedimentary rocks. This evaluation of rocks and fossils in relative dating is known as biostratigraphy.

What is Absolute Dating?

Absolute dating is the technique of determining the exact numerical age of artifacts, rocks, or even sites, using methods such as carbon dating and others. To assess the exact age, the chemical and physical properties of the object are carefully examined. The main techniques used in absolute dating are carbon dating, the annual cycle method, the trapped electron method, and atomic clocks. These techniques are more complex and advanced in technology compared to the techniques in practice in relative dating. Absolute dating is also sometimes known as relative numerical dating as it comes with the exact age of the object. Absolute dating is more reliable than relative dating, which simply places the different events in time order and explains one using the other. Radiometric dating is another crucial technique by which the exact age can be obtained. In radiometric dating, radioactive minerals within rocks are used to learn the age of the object or sites.

Relative versus absolute dating

  • Relative dating is the technique used to find out which object or item is older compared to the other. Contrary to this, absolute dating is the technique that reports the exact age of the artifact or the site using methods such as carbon dating.
  • Absolute dating is also known as numerical dating as it generates the exact numerical age of the item.
  • In relative dating, techniques such as stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are used to find out which of the objects is older. On the other hand, in absolute dating methods such as radiometric dating, carbon dating and trapped electron method are used.

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