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Geochronology is the science of determining the age of rocks, fossils, and sediments using signatures inherent in the rocks themselves.
Absolute geochronology can be accomplished through radioactive isotopes, whereas relative geochronology is provided by tools such as palaeomagnetism and stable isotope ratios.
The science of geochronology is the prime tool used in the discipline of chronostratigraphy, which attempts to derive absolute age dates for all fossil assemblages and determine the geologic history of the Earth and extraterrestrial bodies.
By measuring the amount of radioactive decay of a radioactive isotope with a known half-life, geologists can establish the absolute age of the parent material.
In these cases, the cosmogenic nuclides can only provide a minimum near-surface age.
Examples include sediment from beneath desert sand dunes, and rocks from beneath cold-based glaciers.
By combining multiple geochronological (and biostratigraphic) indicators the precision of the recovered age can be improved.
For paleomagnetic dating, it is suggested to use the APWP in order to date a pole obtained from rocks or sediments of unknown age by linking the paleopole to the nearest point on the APWP.Marker horizons are stratigraphic units of the same age and of such distinctive composition and appearance, that despite their presence in different geographic sites, there is certainty about their age-equivalence.Fossil faunal and floral assemblages, both marine and terrestrial, make for distinctive marker horizons.Two methods of paleomagnetic dating have been suggested (1) Angular method and (2) Rotation method.Magnetostratigraphy determines age from the pattern of magnetic polarity zones in a series of bedded sedimentary and/or volcanic rocks by comparison to the magnetic polarity timescale.
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Biostratigraphy does not directly provide an absolute age determination of a rock, but merely places it within an interval of time at which that fossil assemblage is known to have coexisted.