Definitions for relative dating

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Wiktionary

  1. relative dating(Noun)

    A method of determining the age of a fossil by comparing its placement with that of fossils in other layers of rock.

  2. relative dating(Noun)

    An act of so doing.

Freebase

  1. Relative dating

    Relative dating is the science determining the relative order of past events, without necessarily determining their absolute age. In geology rock or superficial deposits, fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another. Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating which provided a means of absolute dating in the early 20th century, archaeologists and geologists were largely limited to the use of relative dating techniques to determine the geological events. Though relative dating can only determine the sequential order in which a series of events occurred, not when they occur, it remains a useful technique especially in materials lacking radioactive isotopes. Relative dating by biostratigraphy is the preferred method in paleontology, and is in some respects more accurate. The Law of Superposition was the summary outcome of 'relative dating' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century. The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith. While digging the Somerset Coal Canal in southwest England, he found that fossils were always in the same order in the rock layers. As he continued his job as a surveyor, he found the same patterns across England. He also found that certain animals were in only certain layers and that they were in the same layers all across England. Due to that discovery, Smith was able to recognize the order that the rocks were formed. Sixteen years after his discovery, he published a geological map of England showing the rocks of different geologic time eras.

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