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Geological Time: Dating Techniques

  1. Donald R Prothero

Published Online: 22 MAR 2002

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0001618



How to Cite

Prothero, D. R. 2002. Geological Time: Dating Techniques. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 22 MAR 2002


Numerical dating (‘absolute dating’) of geological events allows us to place time estimates on geological and biological phenomena of the past. A number of techniques are used, most of which use the process of radioactive decay as a clock. From the latest dates, we have discovered that many evolutionary processes and events took place either much faster or much more slowly than previously imagined.


  • geochronology;
  • geological timescale;
  • radioactivity;
  • macroevolution