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Geologic Time. Rocks Record Earth History 17.1 Determining Relative Age Rocks record geological events and changing life forms of the past. We have learned.

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Presentation on theme: "Geologic Time. Rocks Record Earth History 17.1 Determining Relative Age Rocks record geological events and changing life forms of the past. We have learned."— Presentation transcript:

1 Geologic Time

2 Rocks Record Earth History 17.1 Determining Relative Age Rocks record geological events and changing life forms of the past. We have learned that Earth is much older than anyone had previously imagined and that its surface and interior have been changed by the same geological processes that continue today.

3 A Brief History of Geology Discovering Earths History Uniformitarianism means that the forces and processes that we observe today have been at work for a very long time.

4 Principle of Uniformitarianism This theory was proposed by a Scottish physician and farmer named James Hutton Before Huttons work most people thought that the earth was only about 6 thousand years old Geologists now estimate the earth to be about 4.6 billion years old

5 Relative DatingKey Principles Discovering Earths History Relative dating tells us the sequence in which events occurred, not how long ago they occurred. Law of Superposition The law of superposition states that in an undeformed sequence of sedimentary rocks, each bed is older than the one above it and younger than the one below it.

6 Ordering the Grand Canyons History

7 Relative DatingKey Principles Discovering Earths History Principle of Original Horizontality The principle of original horizontality means that layers of sediment are generally deposited in a horizontal position.

8 Disturbed Rock Layers

9 With disturbed rock layers, due to crustal movements, this law cannot be easily applied Clues: 1. particle size in sedimentary rock largest particles are in the bottom layer study or particle size may reveal whether the layer has been overturned (upside down etc) 2. Ripple marks should lie with their peaks turned up

10 Disturbed Rock Layers

11 More Clues that you have disturbed layers Discovering Earths History 3. Principle of Cross-Cutting Relationships The principle of cross-cutting relationships states that when a fault cuts through rock layers, or when magma intrudes other rocks and crystallizes, we can assume that the fault or intrusion is younger than the rocks affected. 4. Inclusions Inclusions are rocks contained within other rocks. Rocks containing inclusions are younger than the inclusions they contain.

12 Cross-Cutting Relationships A rock unit must always be older than any feature that cuts or disrupts it (e.g., faults, metamorphism, igneous intrusions).

13 Applying Cross-Cutting Relationships


15 Formation of Inclusions

16 Relative DatingKey Principles Discovering Earths History Unconformities An unconformity represents a long period during which deposition stopped, erosion removed previously formed rocks, and then deposition resumed. Types of Unconformities 1. An angular unconformity indicates that during the pause in deposition, a period of deformation (folding or tilting) and erosion occurred.

17 Formation of an Angular Conformity

18 Relative DatingKey Principles Discovering Earths History Unconformities 2. A nonconformity is when the erosional surface separates older metamorphic or intrusive igneous rocks from younger sedimentary rocks. 3. A disconformity is when two sedimentary rock layers are separated by an erosional surface.

19 A Record of Uplift, Erosion, and Deposition

20 Correlation of Rock Layers Discovering Earths History Correlation is establishing the equivalence of rocks of similar age in different areas.

21 Correlation of Strata at Three Locations

22 Fossil Formation 17.3 Fossils: Evidence of Past Life Fossils are the remains or traces of prehistoric life. They are important components of sediment and sedimentary rocks. Some remains of organismssuch as teeth, bones, and shellsmay not have been altered, or may have changed hardly at all over time. The type of fossil that is formed is determined by the conditions under which an organism died and how it was buried. Unaltered Remains

23 Fossil Formation 17.3 Fossils: Evidence of Past Life Altered Remains The remains of an organism are likely to be changed over time. Fossils often become petrified or turned to stone. Molds and casts are another common type of fossil. (empty cavities behind) Carbonization (imprints)is particularly effective in preserving leaves and delicate animals. It occurs when an organism is buried under fine sediment.

24 Fossil Formation 17.3 Fossils: Evidence of Past Life Indirect Evidence Trace fossils are indirect evidence of prehistoric life. Conditions Favoring Preservation Two conditions are important for preservation: rapid burial and the possession of hard parts.

25 Three kinds of fossil remains 1. Preservation of Organisms 2. Petrification 3. Traces of Organisms

26 Preservation of Organisms Mummification – preserved by drying- there is no decay because bacteria cannot survive without water (desert climates) Amber - hardened tree sap preserves many insects- even DNA has been recovered from amber Tar Seeps – thick petroleum oozing to the surface preserves the remains of animals that get trapped (La Brea Tar Pits in Southern California Freezing – bacteria cannot survive freezing temps (need bacteria for decomposition)

27 Process of Petrification Mineral solutions such as groundwater remove the original organic materials and replace them with petrifying materials such as silica, calcite, and pyrite. This process takes a long time and results in the nearly perfect mineral replica of the original organism (plant or animal)

28 Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

29 Traces of Organisms Trace fossils – footprints hardened into sedimentary rock Imprints, Molds and Casts Imprints – carbonized imprints of leaves, stems, flowers,fish Molds – shells of snails leave empty cavities Casts – sand or mud filled mold Coprolites - fossilized dung or waste materials or castings of worms, snails or crabs Gastroliths –stones in dinosaurs digestive systems (just like chickens)

30 Types of Fossilization

31 How Fossils are formed

32 Fossils and Correlation 17.3 Fossils: Evidence of Past Life The principle of fossil succession states that fossil organisms succeed one another in a definite and determinable order. Therefore, any time period can be recognized by its fossil content. Index fossils are widespread geographically, are limited to a short span of geologic time, and occur in large numbers.

33 Fossil Formation 17.3 Fossils: Evidence of Past Life Interpreting Environments Fossils can also be used to interpret and describe ancient environments.

34 Overlapping Ranges of Fossils

35 17.2 Determining Absolute Age Rates of Erosion and Deposition - only practical with geologic features formed within the past 10,000 to 20,000 years (only a rough estimate) - determine the rate at which erosion is taking place you can give an approximate date to features - estimate the average rates of deposition for limestone, shale and sandstone (what about flood rates?) Varve Count - some sedimentary layers show definite annual layers ( like tree rings) A Varve consists of a light colored band of course particles and a dark colored band of fine particles ( glacial lakes)

36 Relative and Absolute Time

37 Basic Atomic Structures Dating with Radioactivity Orbiting the nucleus are electrons, which are negative electrical charges. Atomic number is the number of protons in the atoms nucleus. Mass number is the number of protons plus the number of neutrons in an atoms nucleus.

38 Radioactivity Dating with Radioactivity Radioactivity is the spontaneous decay of certain unstable atomic nuclei.

39 Common Types of Radioactive Decay

40 Half-Life Dating with Radioactivity A half-life is the amount of time necessary for one-half of the nuclei in a sample to decay to a stable isotope.

41 The Half-Life Decay Curve

42 Radiometric Dating Dating with Radioactivity Each radioactive isotope has been decaying at a constant rate since the formation of the rocks in which it occurs. Radiometric dating is the procedure of calculating the absolute ages of rocks and minerals that contain radioactive isotopes.

43 Radiometric Dating As a radioactive isotope decays, atoms of the daughter product are formed and accumulate. Dating with Radioactivity An accurate radiometric date can be obtained only if the mineral remained in a closed system during the entire period since its formation.

44 Radioactive Isotopes Frequently Used in Radiometric Dating

45 Dating with Carbon-14 Radiocarbon dating is the method for determining age by comparing the amount of carbon-14 to the amount of carbon-12 in a sample. Dating with Radioactivity When an organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 it contains gradually decreases as it decays. By comparing the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in a sample, radiocarbon dates can be determined.

46 Importance of Radiometric Dating Radiometric dating has supported the ideas of James Hutton, Charles Darwin, and others who inferred that geologic time must be immense. Dating with Radioactivity


48 Structure of the Time Scale 18.1 The Geologic Time Scale Based on their interpretations of the rock record, geologists have divided Earths 4.56-billion-year history into units that represent specific amounts of time. Taken together, these time spans make up the geologic time scale.

49 Structure of the Time Scale 18.1 The Geologic Time Scale Eons represent the greatest expanses of time. Eons are divided into eras. Each era is subdivided into periods. Finally, periods are divided into smaller units called epochs. There are three eras within the Phanerozoic eon: the Paleozoic, which means ancient life, the Mesozoic, which means middle life, and the Cenozoic, which means recent life.

50 Structure of the Time Scale 18.1 The Geologic Time Scale Each period within an era is characterized by somewhat less profound changes in life forms as compared with the changes that occur during an era. The periods of the Cenozoic era are divided into still smaller units called epochs, during which even less profound changes in life forms occur.

51 Precambrian Time 18.1 The Geologic Time Scale During Precambrian time, there were fewer life forms. These life forms are more difficult to identify and the rocks have been disturbed often.

52 The Geologic Time Scale

53 Difficulties With the Geologic Time Scale 18.1 The Geologic Time Scale A sedimentary rock may contain particles that contain radioactive isotopes, but these particles are not the same age as the rock in which they occur. The age of a particular mineral in a metamorphic rock does not necessarily represent the time when the rock was first formed. Instead, the date may indicate when the rock was metamorphosed.

54 Using Radiometric Methods to Help Date Sedimentary Rocks

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