Relative Dating vs. Absolute Dating: What's the Difference?

Key Difference

In the field of Geology, dating is an important term as it is a technique through which evaluation regarding the age and period about the fossil, remains, the archaeologists do valuables and artifacts. At first, there were not many methods of dating were available, but now with advancement in the technology, we mainly have two types of the techniques to ascertain ages of ancient belongings. Relative Dating and Absolute Dating are two types of such techniques which are under practice to determine the age of the fossils, objects or civilizations. The relative dating is the technique in the Geology through which the age is determined with relation to the other objects. In other words, we can say that in relative dating the archaeologist determines that which of the two fossil or the artifacts are older. Contrary to this, the absolute dating is the technique, using which the exact age of the artifacts, fossils, or sites are ascertained.

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Comparison Chart

Relative Dating Absolute Dating
Definition The relative dating is the technique used to know that which object or item is older in comparison to the other one. The absolute dating is the technique which tells about the exact age of the artifact or the site using the methods like carbon dating.
Other name No other name. Also known as the numerical dating.
Methods In relative dating techniques like stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are used to know which of the object is older. Methods like radiometric dating, carbon dating, and trapped electron method are used.
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What is Relative Dating?

The relative dating is the technique to ascertain the age of the artifacts, rocks or even sites while comparing one from the other. In relative dating the exact age of the object is not known; the only thing which made clear using this is that which of the two artifacts is older. The relative dating is less advanced technique as compared to the absolute dating. In relative dating, mostly the common sense principles are applied, and it is told that which artifact or object is older than the other one. Most commonly, the ancient factors of the rocks or objects are examined using the method called stratigraphy. In other words, we can say that the age in the relative dating is ascertained by witnessing the layers of deposition or the rocks. As the word relative tells that defining the object with respect to the other object, it will be pertinent to mention here that actual numerical dates of the rocks or sites are not known in this type of dating. Other than rocks, fossils are the other most important elements in the relative dating as many organisms have there remain in the sedimentary rocks. This evaluation of the rocks and fossils in the relative dating is known as the biostratigraphy.

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What is Absolute Dating?

The absolute dating is the technique to ascertain the exact numerical age of the artifacts, rocks or even sites, with using the methods like carbon dating and other. To evaluate the exact age, both the chemical and physical properties of the object are looked keenly. The main techniques used in absolute dating are carbon dating, annual cycle method, trapped electron method, and the atomic clocks. These techniques are more complex and advanced regarding technology as compared to the techniques in practice in the relative dating. The absolute dating is also sometimes referred as the relative numerical dating as it comes with the exact age of the object. The absolute dating is more reliable than the relative dating, which merely puts the different events in the time order and explains one using the other. The radiometric dating is another crucial technique through which the exact age can be obtained. In radiometric dating, the radioactive minerals within the rocks are used to know about the age of the object or the sites.

Relative Dating vs. Absolute Dating

  • The relative dating is the technique used to know that which object or item is older in comparison to the other one. Contrary to this, the absolute dating is the technique which tells about the exact age of the artifact or the site using the methods like carbon dating.
  • The absolute dating is also known as the numerical dating as it comes up with the exact numerical age of the item.
  • In relative dating techniques like stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are used to know which of the object is older. On the other hand, in absolute dating, methods like radiometric dating, carbon dating, and trapped electron method are used.

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