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A wide variety of dating methods are used in Quaternary research, and each method has many applications and limitations. Because of this variety, we cannot discuss the applications and limitations of all methods here. The more versatile and widely used methods, including 14C, K/Ar, fission-track, U-series, paleomagnetism, thermoluminescence, and amino acid dating are treated more comprehensively in this chapter than other methods that are shown on the summary chart. The summary chart is provided here to give an overview of dating work and research for the Quaternary.

This summary consists mainly of a table (Plate 2) that is modified and updated from Colman and Pierce (1977, Plate 1, ref. 66). The table is intended as an overview and concise guide to Quaternary dating methods. It contains many subjective judgments and should not be considered definitive; the entries for applicability, age range, and optimum resolution are particularly interpretive. Details concerning assumptions, analytical techniques, uncertainties, and interpretations should be obtained from specialized references using the key references in Plate 2 as a guide. The dating methods described range from well-known and established techniques to experimental procedures whose results are subject to considerable interpretation.

Key references included on Plate 2 are intended as an entry into the vast literature on dating methods; space prohibits a more complete listing. We have emphasized recent review papers and notable examples of applications as sources of additional references and information. Dating methods discussed in other sections of this chapter are indicated by asterisks in.

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