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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.

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You are taking an object as it is and coming to a conclusion based on what it has to offer.

For example: If an archaeologist is studying past civilizations, the archaeologist may be able to say that in a particular location the ruins of one civilization were found to have been built on another and so the layers unearthed in an excavation convey the sequence of historical occupations without revealing the actual dates.

However, carbon dating is an absolute dating technique that can give an estimate of the actual age of an artifact and thus an estimate of the age of other objects in the same layer.

Absolute dating is a method of estimating the age of a rock sample in years via radiometric techniques.

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.

By deducing which fossils are formed in the sequence of time, the periods when the particular fossilized entities existed can be arranged in order without the actual dates of when the fossils were laid down.