Relative dating and radiometric dating are used to determine age of fossils and geologic features, but with different methods.Relative dating uses observation of location within rock layers, while radiometric dating uses data from the decay of radioactive substances within an object.Continue Reading Relative dating observes the placement of fossils and rock in layers known as strata.
Relative dating helps determine what came first and what followed, but doesn't help determine actual age.
Radiometric dating, or numeric dating, determines an actual or approximate age of an object by studying the rate of decay of radioactive isotopes, such as uranium, potassium, rubidium and carbon-14 within that object. This rate provides scientists with an accurate measurement system to determine age.
For example, carbon dating is used to determine the age of organic materials.
Once something dies, it ceases taking in new carbon-14, and the existing carbon-14 within the organism decays into nitrogen at a fixed rate.
Scientists measure the proportion of carbon-14 left in the organism to determine its age.
Relative dating is a dating method that used to determine determine the relative ages of geologic strata, artifacts, historical events, etc.
This technique does not give specific ages to items.
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Free 5-day trial Focusing on how to determine the age of a rock, this quiz and corresponding worksheet will help you gauge your knowledge of the principles of radiometric dating.
Topics you'll need to know to pass the quiz include understanding what radiometric dating is based upon as well as knowing the characteristics of radioactive decay.