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Ch. 5 Rocks, Fossils, and Time ESCI 102. The fact that Earth has changed through time is apparent from evidence in the geologic record The geologic record.

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Presentation on theme: "Ch. 5 Rocks, Fossils, and Time ESCI 102. The fact that Earth has changed through time is apparent from evidence in the geologic record The geologic record."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ch. 5 Rocks, Fossils, and Time ESCI 102

2 The fact that Earth has changed through time is apparent from evidence in the geologic record The geologic record is the record of events preserved in rocks Although all rocks are useful in deciphering the geologic record, sedimentary rocks are especially useful We will learn to interpret the geologic record using uniformitarianism Geologic Record

3 Fossils in these rocks provide a record of climate change and biological events The rocks themselves help reconstruct the environment Geologic Record John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon

4 Stratigraphy deals with the study of any layered (stratified) rock, but primarily with sedimentary rocks and their composition origin age relationships geographic extent Sedimentary rocks are almost all stratified Many igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks are also stratified Stratigraphy

5 Stratification in a succession of lava flows in Oregon Stratified Igneous Rocks

6 Stratification in Siamo Slate, in Michigan Stratified Metamorphic Rocks

7 Stratification in sedimentary rocks consisting of alternating layers of sandstone and shale, in California Stratified Sedimentary Rocks

8 Surfaces known as bedding planes –separate individual strata from one another Vertical Stratigraphic Relationships Rocks above and below a bedding plane differ –in composition, texture, color –or a combination of these features The bedding plane signifies –a rapid change in sedimentation –or perhaps a period of nondeposition

9 Nicolas Steno realized that he could determine the relative ages of horizontal (undeformed) strata by their position in a sequence In deformed strata, the task is more difficult –sedimentary structures, such as cross-bedding, and fossils –allow geologists to resolve these kinds of problems more later in term Superposition

10 According to the principle of inclusions –inclusions or fragments in a rock are older than the rock itself Principle of Inclusions Light-colored granite showing basalt inclusions (dark) Which rock is older? northern Wisconsin – basalt, because the granite includes it

11 Determining the relative ages of lava flows, sills and associated sedimentary rocks uses alteration by heat and inclusions Age of Lava Flows, Sills How can you determine whether a layer of basalt within a sequence of sedimentary rocks is a buried lava flow or a sill? –a lava flow forms in sequence with the sedimentary layers rocks below the lava will have signs of heating but not the rocks above the rocks above may have lava inclusions

12 –sill will heat the rocks above and below Sill –sill might also have inclusions of the rocks above and below –but neither of these rocks will have inclusions of the sill How can you determine whether a layer of basalt within a sequence of sedimentary rocks is a buried lava flow or a sill?

13 So far we have discussed vertical relationships among conformable strata sequences of rocks in which deposition was more or less continuous Unconformities in sequences of strata represent times of nondeposition and/or erosion that encompass long periods of geologic time –millions to hundreds of millions of years The rock record is incomplete –interval of time not represented by strata is a hiatus Unconformities

14 For 1 million years erosion occurred –removing 2 MY of rocks Origins of an Unconformity Deposition began 12 million years ago (MYA) Continuing until 4 MYA The last column is the actual stratigraphic record with an unconformity –and giving rise to a 3 million year hiatus

15 Three types of surfaces can be unconformities: –disconformity separates younger from older rocks both of which are parallel to one another (implies sed rx) –nonconformity cuts into metamorphic or intrusive rocks is covered by sedimentary rocks –angular unconformity tilted or folded strata over which younger rocks were deposited Types of Unconformities

16 Unconformities of regional extent may change from one type to another They may not represent the same amount of geologic time everywhere Types of Unconformities

17 In 1669, Nicolas Steno proposed the principle of lateral continuity –layers of sediment extend outward in all directions until they terminate –terminations may be abrupt at the edge of a depositional basin, and… Lateral Relationships where eroded where truncated by faults

18 Gradual Terminations –or they may be gradual where a rock unit becomes progressively thinner until it pinches out or where it splits into thinner units each of which pinches out, called intertonging where a rock unit changes by lateral gradation as its composition and/or texture becomes increasingly different

19 Both intertonging and lateral gradation indicate simultaneous deposition in adjacent environments A sedimentary facies is a body of sediment –with distinctive physical, chemical and biological attributes deposited side-by-side with other sediments in different environments Sedimentary Facies

20 On a continental shelf, sand may accumulate in the high-energy nearshore environment Sedimentary Facies Mud and carbonate deposition takes place at the same time in offshore low-energy environments  Different Facies

21 A marine transgression occurs when sea level rises with respect to the land During a marine transgression –the shoreline migrates landward –the environments paralleling the shoreline migrate landward Each laterally adjacent depositional environment produces a sedimentary facies During a transgression, the facies forming offshore become superposed upon facies deposited in nearshore environments Marine Transgressions

22 Rocks of each facies become younger in a landward direction during a marine transgression Marine Transgression One body of rock with the same attributes (a facies) was deposited gradually at different times in different places so it is time transgressive –ages vary from place to place older shale younger shale

23 Three formations deposited in a widespread marine transgression are exposed in the walls of the Grand Canyon What is the sea level history recorded? A Marine Transgression in the Grand Canyon

24 During a marine regression, sea level falls with respect to the continent Marine Regression –and the environments paralleling the shoreline migrate seaward

25 Marine Regression A marine regression is the opposite of a marine transgression It yields a vertical sequence with nearshore facies overlying offshore facies and lithostratigraphic rock units become younger in the seaward direction younger shale older shale

26 Johannes Walther ( ) noticed that the same facies he found laterally were also present in a vertical sequence –Walther’s Law: the facies seen in a conformable vertical sequence will also replace one another laterally –Walther’s law applies to marine transgressions and regressions Walther’s Law adapted from Van Wagoner et al., 1990; ata/sequence/parasequ ences.html

27 Since the Late Precambrian, 6 major marine transgressions followed by regressions have occurred in North America These produce rock sequence, bounded by unconformities, that provide the structure for U.S. Paleozoic and Mesozoic geologic history Shoreline movements are a few centimeters per year Transgression or regressions with small reversals produce intertonging Extent and Rates of Transgressions and Regressions

28 Causes of Transgressions and Regressions

29 Uplift of continents causes local regression Subsidence causes local transgression Widespread glaciation causes regression Causes of Transgressions and Regressions – due to the amount of water frozen in glaciers Rapid seafloor spreading causes transgression – expands the mid-ocean ridge system, displacing seawater onto the continents Diminishing seafloor-spreading rates increase the volume of the ocean basins and causes regression

30 Fossils are the remains or traces of prehistoric organisms They are most common in sedimentary rocks –and in some accumulations of pyroclastic materials, especially ash They are extremely useful for determining relative ages of strata –geologists also use them to ascertain environments of deposition Fossils provide some of the evidence for organic evolution –many fossils are of organisms now extinct Fossils

31 Remains of organisms are called body fossils –mostly durable skeletal elements such as bones, teeth and shells How do Fossils Form? –rarely we might find entire animals preserved by freezing or mummification

32 Indications of organic activity including tracks, trails, burrows, and nests are called trace fossils A coprolite is a type of trace fossil consisting of fossilized feces that may provide information about the size and diet of the animal that produced it Trace Fossils

33 A land-dwelling beaver, Paleocastor, made this spiral burrow in Nebraska Trace Fossils

34 Fossilized feces (coprolite) of a carnivorous mammal –specimen measures about 5 cm long and contains small fragments of bones Trace Fossils

35 The most favorable conditions for preservation of body fossils occurs when the organism –possesses a durable skeleton of some kind –and lives in an area where burial is likely Body fossils may be preserved as –unaltered remains, meaning they retain their original composition and structure,by freezing, mummification, in amber, in tar –altered remains, with some change in composition or structure by being permineralized, recrystallized, replaced, carbonized Body Fossil Formation

36 Insects in amber Unaltered Remains Preservation in tar

37 Unaltered Remains 40,000- year-old frozen baby mammoth found in Siberia in 1971 –it is 1.15 m long and 1.0 m tall and it had a hairy coat –hair around the feet is still visible

38 Petrified tree stump in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado –volcanic mudflows 3 to 6 m deep covered the lower parts of many trees at this site Altered Remains

39 Carbon film of a palm frond Altered Remains Carbon film of an insect

40 Molds form when buried remains leave a cavity Casts form if material fills in the cavity Molds and Casts – fossil turtle showing some of the original shell material – body fossil and a cast

41 Mold and Cast Step a: burial of a shell Step b: dissolution leaving a cavity, a mold Step c: the mold is filled by sediment forming a cast

42 The fossil record is the record of ancient life preserved as fossils in rocks The fossil record is very incomplete because of: –bacterial decay –physical processes –scavenging –metamorphism In spite of this, fossils are quite common Fossil Record

43 William Smith , an English civil engineer –independently discovered Steno’s principle of superposition –he also realized that fossils in the rocks followed the same principle –he discovered that sequences of fossils, especially groups of fossils, are consistent from area to area –thereby discovering a method of relatively dating sedimentary rocks at different locations Fossils and Telling Time

44 Compare the ages of rocks from different localities Fossils from Different Areas

45 Using superposition, Smith was able to predict the order in which fossils would appear in rocks not previously visited Principle of Fossil Succession –lead to the principle of fossil succession

46 Principle of fossil succession –holds that fossil assemblages (groups of fossils) succeed one another through time in a regular and determinable order Why not simply match up similar rocks types? Principle of Fossil Succession – because the same kind of rock has formed repeatedly through time Fossils also formed through time, but because different organisms existed at different times, fossil assemblages are unique

47 The youngest rocks are in column B Whereas the oldest are in column C Matching Rocks Using Fossils youngest oldest

48 Investigations of rocks by naturalists between 1830 and 1842 based on superposition and fossil succession –resulted in the recognition of rock bodies called systems –and the construction of a composite geologic column that is the basis for the relative geologic time scale Relative Geologic Time Scale

49 Geologic Column and the Relative Geologic Time Scale Absolute ages (the numbers) were added much later.

50 Correlation is the process of matching up rocks in different areas There are two types of correlation: –lithostratigraphic correlation simply matches up the same rock units over a larger area with no regard for time –time-stratigraphic correlation demonstrates time-equivalence of events Correlation

51 Lithostratigraphic Correlation Correlation of lithostratigraphic units such as formations –traces rocks laterally across gaps

52 Because most rock units of regional extent are time transgressive we cannot rely on lithostratigraphic correlation to demonstrate time equivalence –for example: sandstone in Arizona is correctly correlated with similar rocks in Colorado and South Dakota but the age of these rocks varies from Early Cambrian in the west to middle Cambrian farther east (THAT'S MILLIONS OF YEARS!) Time Equivalence

53 For all organisms now extinct, their existence marks two points in time –their time of origin –their time of extinction One type of biozone, the range zone, –is defined by the geologic range total time of existence –of a particular fossil group, a species, or a group of related species called a genus Most useful are fossils that are –easily identified –geographically widespread –had a rather short geologic range Time Equivalence

54 The brachiopod Lingula is not useful because, although it is easily identified and has a wide geographic extent, –it has too large a geologic range The brachiopod Atrypa and trilobite Paradoxides are well suited for time-stratigraphic correlation –because of their short ranges They are guide fossils Guide Fossils

55 Some physical events of short duration are also used to demonstrate time equivalence: –distinctive lava flow would have formed over a short period of time –ash falls take place in a matter of hours or days may cover large areas are not restricted to a specific environment Short Duration Physical Events Absolute ages may be obtained for igneous events using radiometric dating

56 Ordovician rocks –are younger than those of the Cambrian –and older than Silurian rocks But how old are they? –When did the Ordovician begin and end? Since radiometric dating techniques work on igneous and some metamorphic rocks, but not generally on sedimentary rocks, this is not so easy to determine Absolute Dates and the Relative Geologic Time Scale

57 Absolute ages of sedimentary rocks are most often found by determining radiometric ages of associated igneous or metamorphic rocks Indirect Dating

58 Combining thousands of absolute ages associated with sedimentary rocks of known relative age gives the numbers on the geologic time scale


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