Absolute dating vs relative dating

So instead of human records, geologists use techniques such as radiometric dating.

There are two basic approaches: relative age dating, and absolute age dating.

In this lesson, we're going to discuss what each type of time is and why it is important so that you too can understand how they work to describe past events on Earth. Let's start with absolute time, also called chronometric time ('chrono' means 'time' and 'metric' means 'measure').

You can think of this type of time as how we normally view it on a day-to-day basis: specific intervals or moments measured in days, months, years, etc.

And when we put both absolute and relative time together, we create a geologic time scale that puts all these events in perspective. are layered in their relative order from oldest at the bottom to most recent at the top, and we also see how much absolute time each one spans.

For example, if we look at the scale, we see that the Paleozoic Era comes before the Mesozoic Era, relatively speaking, and that it spans about 290 million years, starting about 542 million years ago and ending about 251 million years ago.

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Here is an easy-to understand analogy for your students: relative age dating is like saying that your grandfather is older than you.

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