What are the strengths and limitations of relative age dating

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What are the limitations of relative and absolute dating? | Yahoo Answers

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What are some of the limits of radiometric dating techniques?

Relative and absolute geologic dating practices have their strengths and weaknesses, which are inherent to their process. Although this article highlights a brief overview of two basic types of geologic dating, it is not meant to represent all methods of dating, and it is also not meant to be a comprehensive review of relative and absolute methods.

Relative Age Dating I

Rather, this is a simplified explanation paired with their apparent weaknesses. Relative dating simply orders stratigraphic units, or layers of rock, from oldest to youngest.

Strengths and weaknesses of radiometric and other dating methods

There are several rules or laws in place that provide scientists with the means to determine which layer is oldest, youngest and the relative ages of the layers in between. The rules are a fundamental frame, and they are based in logic. For example, the Principle of Original Horizontality states that all layers of sedimentary rocks are deposited in flat, parallel layers. The Law of Superposition indicates that the oldest layers will be on the bottom, the youngest on the top.


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Likewise, the Law of Cross-Cutting Relationships holds that any igneous intrusion or physical change such as faulting, must have occurred after the deposition of the strata that it cuts through, and thus, must be older than those particular rocks. These simple parameters provide the fundamental basis for relatively dating geologic strata.


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The weakness of relative dating is inherent to its very nature. The primary issue is the lack of "real" dates, as in assigning a numerical value to the number of years that have passed since the formation of the rock sample. Stating that one layer is older or younger than another provides invaluable information regarding the environmental changes represented in the geologic record, but it does not provide a date for the bed.

The Age of the Earth

Absolute Dating is the method by which an actual numerical value is determined for a layer of rock. The most reliable way to accomplish this is through radiometric dating. When an unstable radioactive isotope, or parent, decays or loses radiation such as a beta particle, antineutrino or a gamma ray, a daughter product is left behind.

This is often based on fossils and the Law of Superposition. This can fail if you don't have fossils, or if tectonic forces have changed rock sequences, or if erosion in some place has taken a rock out of existence.

Relative Dating:

Carbon relationship isn't misguided - archaeologists use it each and all of the time. So it can not be used to this factor something older than that Fossils usually can not be dated via radiocarbon strategies because of the fact they sometimes do no longer contain any organic and organic fabric anymore, besides.

Related Questions In biology, what is the limitation of relative dating? If carbon dating is not accurate how do you know fossils are millions of years old? Is Carbon dating really that accurate?