Relative and chronometric dating techniques

Relative dating includes methods that rely on the analysis of comparative data or the context (eg, geological, regional, cultural) in which the object one wishes to date is found.

This approach helps to order events chronologically but it does not provide the absolute age of an object expressed in years.

These artifacts can be placed in order, but requires external information to determine which end of the series is younger or older.

Absolute dating determines the age of artifacts in terms of the number of years before the present, with reference to a fixed time scale.

The L-amino acids change to D-amino acids more or less steadily following death. As a result, remains of organisms that died long ago will have more D-amino acids than ones that died recently.

Aspartic acid (one of the 20 amino acids) is usually extracted from samples for this dating technique.

The earliest evidence of writing anywhere in the world only goes back about 5000 years.

Paleoanthropologists frequently need chronometric dating systems that can date things that are many thousands or even millions of years older.

However, the longer bristlecone pine sequence is of little value except for cross-checking the reliability of other dating techniques because logs of this species are rarely found in association with ancient humans.

That may mean that another reversal is coming, but not for a few thousand years.

The earth's magnetic field helps block out dangerous ionizing radiation from our sun.

A compass needle would have pointed to the south pole during some periods and to the north pole during others.

Lava and volcanic ash deposits often contain the thermoremnant magnetic records of these reversals.