The most important tools for paleontologists are collections of fossils and paleontological reports (with fossil plates for identification) from other locations in the region or around the world.
Micropaleontologists and palynologists work with microscopes or scanning electron microscopes (SEM).
In addition to the chemical and physical characteristics of volcanic ash, select igneous minerals in the ash can be used for absolute dating (discussed below).
For more information, contact Andrei Sarna-Wojcicki. Strontium Geochronology - With modern isotope separation equipment, the content of selected elemental isotopes can now be measured in concentrations to parts-per-million to parts-per-billion and beyond.
Palynologists separate pollen from sediments for correlation and paleoenvironmental reconstructions.
Typically, paleontological information is used in conjunction with other methods of relative or absolute age dating.
Tephrochronology is the study of volcanic ash deposits.
Volcanic ash layers often have unique chemical and physical characteristics that can be used for correlation.
Like fossils, the chemical and physical characteristics of rocks, minerals, and organic materials can be used for correlation.
New dating methods are invented all the time, however, most have practical limitations.
Geologic research and mapping requires the determinations of the ages and composition of rocks.
Biostratigraphy is the science of correlation of sedimentary units base on the identifiable fossils they contain.
Paleontologists examine fossils of all kinds, but micropaleontology (the study of microscopic organisms) is perhaps the most useful method of dating because the remains of tiny organisms tend to be better preserved, more widely distributed, and may provide more precise age determinations than larger shells or bone material.