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Geologic Time. Geologic time scale How geologists explain Earth’s rock record Neptunism: all rocks were precipitated from an ocean (1780’s) –Werner (p.

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Presentation on theme: "Geologic Time. Geologic time scale How geologists explain Earth’s rock record Neptunism: all rocks were precipitated from an ocean (1780’s) –Werner (p."— Presentation transcript:

1 Geologic Time

2 Geologic time scale

3 How geologists explain Earth’s rock record Neptunism: all rocks were precipitated from an ocean (1780’s) –Werner (p. 6) –In line with biblical flood Appeared to agree with rock layering –Problems: Where did the water go? What about volcanoes? Too simple!

4 How geologists explain Earth’s rock record Catastrophism (1800’s)-Ch.1 All of Earth’s history resulted from sudden, widespread catastrophes 6 major catastrophes Last catastrophe was the flood Problem: need more than 6 events

5 How geologists explain Earth’s rock record Uniformitarianism (1800’s)-in Ch. 1 –James Hutton –Charles Lyell Present is the key to the past Processes occurring today have occurred throughout geologic history AT THE SAME RATES Can’t explain all rocks found on earth –Rocks formed in conditions that no longer exist –Conditions still exist, but at great depth –Conditions exist, but not observable over human lifetime

6 Relative dating Establishing relative sequence of events –Based on uniformitarianism –Doesn’t put a specific age on event This is what your homework is!

7 Applying Uniformitarianism to rocks Horizontal sedimentary rocks Which rock units are older?

8 Principle of superposition With horizontal sed rocks, the oldest are on the bottom

9 Near vertical Sedimentary Rocks Were these sed rocks deposited like this?

10 Priciple of lateral continuity A water-laid layer of sediment, at the time it was formed, must continue laterally in all directions until it thins out as the result of non-deposition or until it abuts against the edge of the original basin of deposition.

11 Principle of original horizontality Sediments are deposited nearly horizontal. If they aren’t today, they must have been moved or deformed

12 Faulted Rocks Which is younger, rocks or fault?

13 Cross-cutting relationships Which is younger, dark rock or lighter rock? (both are igneous)

14 Principle of cross-cutting relationships An igneous intrusion or fault must be younger than the rocks it intrudes/displaces

15 Principle of inclusions Fragment of rock contained in another unit of rock is older than rock that surrounds fragment

16 Principle of Inclusions

17 Which rock is oldest. How do you know?

18 Principal of Superposition

19 Original Horizontality

20 Principle of Original Horizontality

21 Principal of Cross-cutting relationships

22 Rock ID Quiz Wed. 30 Jan Look at your rock and answer the following 1.Describe your rock. Include the texture, color and composition of your rock. (4pts) 2.Is your rock igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic? (3pts) 3.What is the name of your rock? (3pts) Bonus (2pts): What is a mineral (you must have all characteristics to get the points)?

23 Stratified sedimentary rocks Stratigraphy: study of layered rocks

24 Bedding planes in sed rocks Layers separated by surfaces called bedding planes

25 Relative dating and stratigraphy Which is younger?

26 Disturbed (deformed) sed rocks Which is younger? Which way is up?

27 Relative dating and stratigraphy Which way is up?

28 Principles of relative dating Assumes constant deposition of rocks What if not constant? What if rocks removed from record? Unconformity: break in geologic time

29 Unconformities Missing time in the rock record Caused by…what? 3 kinds –Disconformity –Angular unconformity –Nonconformity Relative dating and stratigraphy

30 Erosion and unconformities How do unconformities occur? Erosion Occurs when rocks are above sea level…why is this??

31 Disconformity Erosional surface is in between parallel beds

32 Disconformity

33 Angular unconformity Tilted beds overlain by younger, horizontal beds

34 Angular unconformity Titled beds overlain by younger horizontal beds

35 Nonconformity o Bedded rocks rest on an eroded surface of crystalline rocks (what are those types of rocks?)

36 Nonconformity

37 Types of unconformities

38 Relative dating/unconformities

39 Sedimentary environments How are different types of rock deposited at the SAME time? Think of a modern day ocean environment…

40 Sedimentary environments

41 Sea level rising, shoreline moves inland transgression Sea level falling, shoreline moves off land regression What can cause changes in sea level?

42 Sea level rising: transgression

43 Transgression

44 How to recognize a transgression


46 Sea level dropping: regression

47 Marine regression

48 How to recognize a marine regression

49 Applying stratigraphy and relative dating

50 Early attempts to date the Earth St. Augustine of Hippo ( A.D ) Established idea of A.D. and B.C.

51 Archbishop Ussher in 1600’s Counted geneologies in the bible back to Adam and Eve Earth formed: October 22, 4004 B.C.

52 Buffon in 1700’s Assumed Earth started molten and cooled to today He measure the cooling rate of melted balls of iron Earth ~ 75,000 years old Problems: –Assumes no new source of heat

53 Other techniques to estimate age: Deposition rates of sediments Ages range from less than 1 million to more than 2 billion Problems: –Assumes constant rates of deposition –Doesn’t take erosion into account

54 Other techniques to estimate age: Salt content in oceans Age of earth ~ 90 million years Problems: –Assumes oceans start as fresh water –Assumes all salt comes from rivers –Assumes no salt is removed from oceans

55 Lord Kelvin’s age of Earth (1866) Returned to cooling Earth calculations –Earth was hot when first formed, cooling ever since Earth looses heat through time Age: 20 million to 40 million years old Problem: –Too young to account for uniformitarian interpretation Discovery of radioactivity defeated this idea

56 Where does this leave us? Earth is old with slow processes Earth is younger than 400 million with fast processes Discovery of radioactivity changes things Radioactivity –Decay of elements through time –Major heat source for Earth

57 Modern uniformitarianism Less literal uniformitarianism Processes are the same, rates change Uniformitarianism and catastrophism combined Occasional catastrophic events do happen Earth is 4.6 billion years old

58 Help with relative dating exercise Geologic time/relative dating Picture with solution

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