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[ While this may be true, a shrub in Tasmania could be 40,000 years old.See Oldest Living Organism.] The Sheffield Laboratory now has a continuous master sequence for England going back to about 5000BC. This article should be a "must read" for any person interested in factualy accurate information on dating methods.Overview of Methods Superposition Stratigraphy Dendrochronology Radiocarbon C14 Radiometric Dating Methods Obsidian Hydration Dating Paleomagnetic/Archaeomagnetic Luminescence Dating Methods Amino Acid Racemization Fission-track Dating Ice Cores Varves Pollens Corals Cation Ratio Fluorine Dating Patination Oxidizable Carbon Ratio Electron Spin Resonance Cosmic-ray Exposure Dating This is an excellent overview of dating methodologies, and is a chapter in a textbook on Archaeology.You may find it useful for the clear definitions, and for excellent links on a variety of topic.For each dating or chronological method there is a link in the box at right to take you to that section of this page.
There are over 130 radiocarbon dating laboratories around the world producing radiocarbon assays for the scientific community. A series of movie clips walks you through the process.Trees from the same species, growing in the same area or environment will be exposed to the same conditions, and hence their growth rings will match at the point where their lifecycles overlap.Earth's oldest living inhabitant "Methuselah" at 4,767 years, has lived more than a millennium longer than any other tree.Cross-dating is a technique used to take advantage of consistencies in stratigraphy between parts of a site or different sites, and objects or strata with a known relative chronology.A specialized form of cross-dating, using animal and plant fossils, is known as biostratigraphy.
Keyed to the relative time scale are examples of index fossils, the forms of life which existed during limited periods of geologic time and thus are used as guides to the age of the rocks in which they are preserved.