Dating relative rock

You can help us choose the best absolute dating method for each rock. To learn more about the dating methods, select the image from the lab.

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It may seem odd that the two procedures are kept distinct—if scientists can determine the numerical ages of rocks and fossils they should be able to put the evidence of ancient life in the correct historical order.

The problem is that only some types of rocks and fossils can be numerically dated, so all other evidence of ancient life must be related to age-dated material by the techniques of relative dating.

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Dating the age of rocks is critical to reconstructing Earth's history.

Geologists rely on two basic types of dating: absolute dating and relative dating.

Absolute dating establishes how many years ago a given event took place.

The most important methods of absolute dating are based on the decay of naturally occurring radioactive elements.

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