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If we say that Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, it is an absolute designation of his birth year, whereas if we say that he was born 10 years after the death of George Washington (which occurred in 1799), that is an example of a relative time measurement.

In actuality, of course, there is no truly absolute measure of time.

As noted earlier, stratigraphy is the study of rock layers, or strata, beneath Earth's surface, while chronostratigraphy is a subdiscipline devoted to studying the ages of rocks and what they reveal about geologic time.

The chronostratigraphic scale likewise has six time units, analogous to those of the geologic scale: eonothem, era them, system, series, stage, and chronozone.

On the other hand, uranium decay takes billions of years, and thus it is used for dating rocks.

Cation-ratio dating, for instance, measures the amount of cations, or positively charged ions, that have formed on an exposed rock surface.

Several factors influence the rate of conversion, and though amino-acid racimization was popular in the 1970s, these uncertainties have led scientists to treat it with increasing disfavor.

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The greater the ratio of Substance B to Substance A, the longer the time that has elapsed.Several of these subjects are examined in essays within this book. The more well-known of these is the geologic scale, which divides time into named groupings according to six basic units: eon, era, period, epoch, age, and chron.In addition, the chronostratigraphic scale identifies successive layers of rock with specific units of time.Given the meaning of relative age, it is easy enough to guess what relative dating would be, once one knows that dating, in a scientific context, usually refers to any effort directed toward finding the age of a particular item or phenomenon.

In the process of relative dating, scientists do not. However, the early geologic time scale.… continue reading »

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