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.
Both disciplines work together hand in hand, however, to the point where they share the same system of naming rock layers and the time spans utilized to classify layers within a stratum.
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.
The polarity timescale has been previously determined by dating of seafloor magnetic anomalies, radiometrically dating volcanic rocks within magnetostratigraphic sections, and astronomically dating magnetostratigraphic sections.
Global trends in isotope compositions, particularly Carbon 13 and strontium isotopes, can be used to correlate strata.
Exposure dating uses the concentration of exotic nuclides (e.g.
Cl) produced by cosmic rays interacting with Earth materials as a proxy for the age at which a surface, such as an alluvial fan, was created.
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.
Burial dating uses the differential radioactive decay of 2 cosmogenic elements as a proxy for the age at which a sediment was screened by burial from further cosmic rays exposure.