Contrast relative age dating and absolute age dating
Though using similar methods, these two techniques differ in certain ways that will be discussed in this article.As the name implies, relative dating can tell which of the two artifacts is older.This is a method that does not find the age in years but is an effective technique to compare the ages of two or more artifacts, rocks or even sites.
• Relative dating does not tell the exact age, it can only compare items as younger and older.
• Absolute dating techniques can tell the exact age of an artifact by employing various techniques, the most popular being C-14 dating.
The most popular method of radio dating is radio carbon dating which is possible because of the presence of C-14, an unstable isotope of carbon.
C-14 has a half life of 5730 years which means that only half of the original amount is left in the fossil after 5730 years while half of the remaining amount is left after another 5730 years.
For example, techniques based on isotopes with half lives in the thousands of years, such as carbon-14, cannot be used to date materials that have ages on the order of billions of years, as the detectable amounts of the radioactive atoms and their decayed daughter isotopes will be too small to measure within the uncertainty of the instruments.