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Relative Age and Radiometric Age Dating

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Compare and contrast relative age dating with radiometric age dating. Discuss the limitation of each?

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Solution Summary

This solution compares and contrasts relative age dating with radiometric age dating, and points out potential limitations of each. Supplemented with one supporting article.

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Please see response attached (see Posting 107553.doc) (also below), including one supporting article. I hope this helps and take care.


I am wondering how well you understand these concepts, as it is very important to understand how relative age dating and radiometric age dating work, before you can compare and contrast the two types of dating. Let's take a closer look, which you then draw on for your final compare and contrast discussion. I perhaps wrote more than you need, so please keep what fits.

1. Compare and contrast relative age dating with radiometric age dating. Discuss the limitation of each?

Relative age dating...

First, relative dating methods involve placing geological events in a sequential order as determined from their position in the rock record. Relative dating will not tell us how long ago a particular event occurred; only that one event preceded the other (disadvantage). Four principles of relative dating are of importance for this question:

1. Principle of superposition: Nicolas Steno realized that correct relative ages of horizontal (undeformed) strata could be determined by their position in a sequence of rock.

2. Principle of cross-cutting Relationship: holds that an igneous intrusion or a fault must be younger than the rocks it intrudes or displaces. This principle is very important in relative dating of geologic events and interpreting Earth history.

3. Principle of lateral continuity: states that sediment extends laterally in all directions until it thins and pinches out or terminates against the edge of the depositional basin.

4. Principal of original horizontality: Steno reasoned that sediment is deposited in essentially horizontal layers (Wicander & Monroe, 1995).

Hypothetical Example: Using relative dating methods

Field setting of the ...

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