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What is the difference between relative and absolute dating of rocks and fossils?

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To determine a fairly precise age of a rock or mineral, geologists use a method called radiometric dating, which involves the determination of the amount of certain isotopes that are present. The age is based on the half-life of the isotopes (their rate of decay over time). When the age is determined in this manner, it is called the absolute age, from absolute dating techniques. For a determination in the field, geologists attempt to date a rock or fossil based on its relative age, which is usually determined by the presence of a trace fossil, or the position of the rock layer in relation to a layer of rock with a known age. A trace fossil is the remains of a rapidly evolving organism that was widespread geographically, and is known to have existed only during a specific geologic time period.

If you have 3 layers of rock, the one in the middle is younger than the bottom one and older than the top one. If you know when the top or bottom layers were formed - you know just about when was the middle one formed. This is "relative dating", but it doesn't give you an exact age.
"Radiometric dating" gives you an exact date of formation for a layer or a rock, even if you don't have another layer or rock to compare it with.
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