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02-Oct-2019 12:31

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!Episodes of global volcanic activity, rifting of continents, folding, and metamorphism are defined by absolute ages.The results suggest that the present-day global tectonic scheme was operative in the distant past as well.Similarly, in geology, if distinctive granitic pebbles can be found in the sediment beside a similar granitic body, it can be inferred that the granite, after cooling, had been uplifted and eroded and therefore was not injected into the adjacent rock sequence.Although with clever detective work many complex time sequences or relative ages can be deduced, the ability to show that objects at two separated sites were formed at the same time requires additional information.

Unlike ages derived from fossils, which occur only in sedimentary rocks, absolute ages are obtained from minerals that grow as liquid rock bodies cool at or below the surface.

This then can be used to deduce the sequence of events and processes that took place or the history of that brief period of time as recorded in the rocks or soil.