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Quaternary Dating Methods

Mike Walker

ISBN: 978-1-118-70009-9 April 2013 304 Pages



This introductory textbook introduces the basics of dating, the range of techniques available and the strengths and limitations of each of the principal methods.

Coverage includes:

  • the concept of time in Quaternary Science and related fields
  • the history of dating from lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy
  • the development and application of radiometric methods
  • different methods in dating: radiometric dating, incremental dating, relative dating and age equivalence

Presented in a clear and straightforward manner with the minimum of technical detail, this text is a great introduction for both students and practitioners in the Earth, Environmental and Archaeological Sciences.

Praise from the reviews:

"This book is a must for any Quaternary scientist." SOUTH AFRICAN GEOGRAPHICAL JOURNAL, September 2006

“…very well organized, clearly and straightforwardly written and provides a good overview on the wide field of Quaternary dating methods…” JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE, January 2007


1 Dating Methods and the Quaternary.

1.1 Introduction.

1.2 The Development of Quaternary Dating.

1.3 Precision and Accuracy in Dating.

1.4 Atomic Structure, Radioactivity and Radiometric Dating.

1.5 The Quaternary: Stratigraphic Framework and Terminology.

1.6 The Scope and Content of the Book.


2 Radiometric Dating 1: Radiocarbon Dating.

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 Basic Principles.

2.3 Radiocarbon Measurement.

2.4 Sources of Error in Radiocarbon Dating.

2.5 Some Problematic Dating Materials.

2.6 Calibration of the Radiocarbon Timescale.

2.7 Applications of Radiocarbon Dating.


3 Radiometric Dating 2: Dating Using Long-Lived and Short-Lived Radioactive Isotopes.

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Argon-Isotope Dating.

3.3 Uranium-Series Dating.

3.4 Cosmogenic Nuclide Dating.

3.5 Dating Using Short-Lived Isotopes.


4 Radiometric Dating 3: Radiation Exposure Dating.

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 Luminescence Dating.

4.3 Electron Spin Resonance Dating.

4.4 Fission Track Dating.


5 Dating Using Annually Banded Records.

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Dendrochronology.

5.3 Varve Chronology.

5.4 Lichenometry.

5.5 Annual Layers in Glacier Ice.

5.6 Other Media Dated by Annual Banding.


6 Relative Dating Methods.

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Rock Surface Weathering.

6.3 Obsidian Hydration Dating.

6.4 Pedogenesis.

6.5 Relative Dating of Fossil Bone.

6.6 Amino Acid Geochronology.


7 Techniques for Establishing Age Equivalence.

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Oxygen Isotope Chronostratigraphy.

7.3 Tephrochronology.

7.4 Palaeomagnetism.

7.5 Palaeosols.


8 Dating the Future.

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Radiometric Dating.

8.3 Annually Banded Records.

8.4 Age Equivalence.

8.5 Biomolecular Dating.




"...the book can well serve as a handbook for both students at pre and post-graduate level and researchers."  (Journal of Sedimentary Research, September 2007)
Discusses the strengths/limits of dating techniques and how they can be applied in Quaternary Science and related fields