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The primary difference in relative dating and absolute dating is that absolute dating assigns an actual time or age to an event or object. Relative dating involves the dating of geological events and formations that occured/existed throughout the whole geological history, and this eventually gives the relative age of the earth.
Tools like radiometric dating use radioactive isotopes and known decay rates… relative is determining the relative order of past events, without necessarily determining their absolute age.Before radiometric dating (or other methods of absolute dating like counting tree rings) it was difficult to determine the actual age of an object.Radiometric dating, based on known rates of decay of radioactive isotopes in objects, allows a specific age of an object to be determined to some degree of accuracy.Short Answer: The term relative dating is distinguished from absolute dating to make it clear that one does not get a specific estimate of the age of an object from relative dating, but one does get such an estimate of true age from absolute dating.
There are several techniques employed in both sets of methods. Long Answer: Sciences such as geology, paleontology and archeology are very interested in identifying the age of objects found and these scientists sometimes use both relative dating or absolute dating to characterize the age of the objects they study.Similarly, relative dating is done by paleontologists who find layers of fossils.