What is relative dating? Relative dating is used to determine the relative ages of geologic strata, artifacts, historical events, etc. This technique does not give specific ages to items. It only sequences the age of things or determines if something is older or younger than other things. Some types of relative dating techniques include climate chronology, dendrochronology, ice core sampling, stratigraphy, and seriation.
Oldest ice core: Finding a 1.5 million-year record of Earth's climate
(PDF) Methods for Dating Ice Cores | Melanie Goral - GETDWELLNESS.COM
Ice consists of water molecules made of atoms that come in versions with slightly different mass, so-called isotopes. Variations in the abundance of the heavy isotopes relative to the most common isotopes can be measured and are found to reflect the temperature variations through the year. The graph below shows how the isotopes correlate with the local temperature over a few years in the early s at the GRIP drill site:. The dashed lines indicate the winter layers and define the annual layers. How far back in time the annual layers can be identified depends on the thickness of the layers, which again depends on the amount of annual snowfall, the accumulation, and how deep the layers have moved into the ice sheet. As the ice layers get older, the isotopes slowly move around and gradually weaken the annual signal. Read more about - diffusion of stable isotopes - how the DYE-3 ice core has been dated using stable isotope data - how stable isotope measurements are performed - stable isotopes as indicators of past temperatures - how annual layers are identified using impurity data.
Ice core basics
It is not uncommon to read that ice cores from the polar regions contain records of climatic change from the distant past. Research teams from the United States, the Soviet Union, Denmark, and France have bored holes over a mile deep into the ice near the poles and removed samples for analysis in their laboratories. Based on flow models, the variation of oxygen isotopes, the concentration of carbon dioxide in trapped air bubbles, the presence of oxygen isotopes, acid concentrations, and particulates, they believe the lowest layers of the ice sheets were laid down over , years ago.
How far into the past can ice-core records go? Scientists have now identified regions in Antarctica they say could store information about Earth's climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1. By studying the past climate, scientists can understand better how temperature responds to changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere. This, in turn, allows them to make better predictions about how climate will change in the future. Now, an international team of scientists wants to know what happened before that.