In geology and archaeology, the process of determining an object's or event's place within a chronological scheme. Scientists may use either relative dating, in which items are sequenced on the basis of stratigraphic clues (see stratigraphy) or a presumed evolution in form or structure, or absolute dating, in which items are assigned a date independent of context. The latter type includes potassium-argon and carbon-14 dating; both are based on the measurement of radioactive decay. The record of changes in polarity of the Earth's magnetic field has provided a timescale for seafloor spreading and long-term marine sedimentation. Dendrochronology has proved useful in archaeology and climatology. See also fission-track dating; helium dating; lead-210 dating; rubidium-strontium dating; uranium-234–uranium-238 dating; uranium-thorium-lead dating.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.For the full entry on dating, visit Britannica.com.
What made you look up dating? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.
Take Our 10-Question Quiz
The commonly misspelled words quiz
A quick quiz about stuff worth knowing
How strong is your vocabulary?