What is the difference between relative dating and radiometric dating

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Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.Some of the most useful fossils for dating purposes are very small ones.For example, microscopic dinoflagellates have been studied and dated in great detail around the world.Each original isotope, called the parent, gradually decays to form a new isotope, called the daughter.Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.

Correlation can involve matching an undated rock with a dated one at another location.

Correlation with them has helped geologists date many New Zealand rocks, including those containing dinosaurs.

Bring relative dating principles to life with the activity Rock layers and relative dating.

The table below shows characteristics of some common radiometric dating methods.

Geologists choose a dating method that suits the materials available in their rocks. Measuring isotopes is particularly useful for dating igneous and some metamorphic rock, but not sedimentary rock.

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