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The Rock and Fossil Record Chapter 6 Earths Story and Those Who First Listened Relative Dating: Which Came First? Absolute Dating: A Measure of Time Looking.

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Presentation on theme: "The Rock and Fossil Record Chapter 6 Earths Story and Those Who First Listened Relative Dating: Which Came First? Absolute Dating: A Measure of Time Looking."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Rock and Fossil Record Chapter 6 Earths Story and Those Who First Listened Relative Dating: Which Came First? Absolute Dating: A Measure of Time Looking at Fossils Time Marches On

2 Terms You Must Know Uniformitarianism Catastrophism Paleontology Relative dating Superposition Geologic column Unconformity Absolute dating Isotope Radioactive decay Radiometric dating Half-life Fossil Trace fossil Mold Cast Index fossil Geologic time scale Eon Era Period Epoch extinction

3 People To Know James Hutton Charles Lyell Georges Cuvier

4 Developed by James Hutton, advocated by Charles Lyell ( ) James Hutton wrote Theory of the Earth Hutton stated that present-day processes, such as erosion and deposition, have operated throughout geologic time Uniformitarianism is a principle that states that geologic processes that occurred in the past can be explained by current geologic processes Hutton applied the principle of uniformitarianism when interpreting rocks at Siccar Point Scotland We now call what he observed an unconformity –but he properly interpreted its formation Uniformitarianism

5 Siccar Point Huttons theories sparked a scientific debate In Huttons time, people believed that the Earth was only a few thousand years old. What Hutton proposed could not happen in just a few thousand years He formed his theories by observing the geologic processes at Siccar Point Deposition and folding were observed

6 Unconformity Hutton first described the evidence for this break in the rock record. He was impressed by a placed called Siccar Point in Scotland where some of the rocks were laid down horizontally, but the rocks underneath them were at an angle. The only explanation Hutton felt was plausible was that the underlying rocks had originally been laid down horizontally, then were tilted and eroded and more rocks were then deposited on top of them. Hutton realized that this scenario represented a large gap in time between the first set of rocks being laid down, then tilted, and the second set of rocks deposited. These gaps in the rock record are called unconformities.

7 Unconformity at Siccar Point

8 Hutton viewed Earth history as cyclical Uniformitarianism He also understood that geologic processes operate over a vast amount of time Modern view of uniformitarianism –geologists assume that the principles or laws of nature are constant –but the rates and intensities of change have varied through time erosiondepositionuplifterosion

9 Grand Canyon: history revealed

10 More than 1 billion years of history are preserved in the rock layers of the Grand Canyon Reading this rock book shows: –periods of mountain building –advancing and retreating shallow seas –evolution of plant and animal species Determine these things by: –applying the principles of relative dating to the rocks –and recognizing that present-day processes have operated throughout Earth history - Uniformitarianism Grand Canyon

11 Catastrophism –proposed by Georges Cuvier ( ) –dominated European geologic thinking –the physical and biological history of Earth resulted from a series of sudden widespread catastrophes which accounted for significant and rapid changes in Earth and exterminated existing life in the affected area –six major catastrophes occurred, corresponding to the six days of biblical creation, he last one was the biblical flood Catastrophism

12 Uniformitarianism vs Catastrophism Catastrophism remained the guiding principle until the work of Charles Lyell Lyell published Principles of Geology, in which he reintroduced uniformitarianism. graduallyHe believed that geologic change happened at the same rate in the past as it happens in the present-- gradually !

13 Lyell and Darwin Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell were good friends. Darwin accepted and supported uniformitarianism Darwin had read Lyells book Principles of Geology before his famous 1831 voyage on HMS Beagle Despite being friends, Lyell did not embrace Darwins theories of natural selection. Much later, Lyell finally accepted Darwins theories.

14 Modern Geology Modern scientists like Stephen Gould have challenged Lyells uniformitarianism. Today scientists beleive that catastrophes do at times play an important role in shaping Earths history. Most geologic change is gradual and uniform but catastrophes have caused geologic change. Ex. Craters formed due to asteroids and comets

15 Paleontology Paleontology is thee scientific study of fossils- plant and animal. Fossils are the remains of organisms preserved by geologic processes. Vertebrate paleontologists study fossils of animals that have backbones. Invertebrate paleontologists study fossils of animals that do not have backbones. Paleobotanists study fossils of plants

16 Relative Dating "Relative Dating" This phrase may conjure up odd jokes and images of kissing cousins to some, but to geologists the phrase refers to distinguishing the age relationships between contiguous rock layers.

17 Superposition –Oldest on bottom, youngest on top Relative-Dating Principles Chattanooga Shale, TN Relative dating is any method of determining whether an event or object is older or younger than other events or objects.

18 Relative Dating Relative dating Can only be used when the rock layers have been preserved in their original sequence – top layer being the youngest layer Helps scientists determine whether one fossil is older than the other

19 Disturbing Forces Not all rock formations are arranged with the oldest layers on the bottom. Natural forces can fold, tilt, break, or remove parts of the rock layer Geologists use a geologic column to help them Relative dating assumes that if rock layers are not horizontal, then something must have disturbed them after they formed.

20 Unconformities What is unconformity? –Unconformity is a break in the geologic record created when rock layers are eroded or when sediment is not deposited for a long period of time. –A surface of erosion or non-deposition –Recognizable surface in the rock record

21 Unconformities Unconformities involve time gaps, typically on the order of tens of millions of years or more. A time gap refers to missing time (as in taking a vacation). A time gap may be due to a time of "nondeposition", meaning that no sediments were deposited for an interval of time. More likely, unconformities indicate a time when uplift and erosion have occurred such that layers deposited at an earlier time have been stripped away. Typically, unconformities involve: – Major sea level changes – Major tectonic events

22 Unconformity When a geologists finds an unconformity, they must question whether the missing layer was never present or whether is was somehow removed Nondeposition- stopage of deposition when a supply of sediment is cut off Erosion can create unconformities.

23 3 Types of Unconformity Disconformities –Most common –Part of a sequence of parallel rock layers is missing Nonconformities Angular unconformities

24 disconformity Disconformities are much harder to recognize in the field, because often there is no angular relationship between sets of layers. Disconformities are usually recognized by correlating from one area to another and finding that some strata is missing in one of the areas.

25 nonconfomity Nonconformities occur where rocks that formed deep in the Earth, such as intrusive igneous rocks or metamorphic rocks, are overlain by sedimentary rocks formed at the Earth's surface. The nonconformity can only occur if all of the rocks overlying the metamorphic or intrusive igneous rocks have been removed by erosion.

26 Nonconfomity Notice that there is an "intersection" of a vertical rock butting up against a horizontal sock. In an unconformity, it is two of the same type of rock (e.g. sedimentary & sedimentary). A nonconformity is two layers of different types (e.g. igneous & sedimentary).

27 Angular unconformity Angular unconformities are easy to recognize in the field because of the angular relationship of layers that were originally deposited horizontally.

28 Example of an Unconformity Tilted sandstone and siltstone below, conglomerate above

29 Dating rocks Relative dating Using a set of principles to put rocks in their proper sequences of formation Absolute dating Using radioactive decay to determine the exact age of rocks

30 Absolute Dating: any method of measuring the age of an event or object in years Most common:based on Radioactive Decay Parentdaughter Why does it work? 1. The decay rate is CONSTANT, independent of external conditions in the earth. 2. The daughter/Parent ratio can be precisely measured.

31 Radioactive Decay The process in which a radioactive isotope tends to break down into a stable isotope of the same element or another element. Sounds great but what is an isotope? An isotope is an atom that has the same number of protons (atomic #) as other atoms of the same element do but that has a different number of neutrons (and thus a different atomic mass)

32 Isotopes Most isotopes are stable, meaning they stay in their original form But some are unstable Unstable isotopes are radioactive Radioactive decay is the process in which a radioactive isotope tends to bread down into a stable isotope of the same or another element

33 How does it work? What does this have to do with the age of rocks? parent isotopeUnstable isotope is called parent isotope daughter isotopeThe stable isotope produced by radioactive decay is the daughter isotope. Decay is constantDecay is constant The more daughter isotope- the older the rock!

34 Radiometric dating A method of determining the age of an object by estimating the relative percentages of a radioactive (parent) isotope and a stable (daughter) isotope Ratio or parent material to daughter material

35 –Absolute dating Helps scientists determine actual age of fossils Rocks near fossils contain radioactive elements – unstable elements that break down into different elements Half-life of a radioactive element is the time it takes for half of the atoms in a sample to decay Scientists compare the amount of radioactive element in a sample to the amount of the element into which it breaks down Scientists use this info to calculate the age of the rock, which then tells the age of the fossil

36 Half-life – the time required for one- half of the radioactive nuclei in a sample to decay

37 Dating with carbon-14 Dating with carbon-14 (radiocarbon dating) –Carbon is normally found in three forms: stable C-12, stable C-14 & radioactive C-14 –All combine with oxygen to form CO 2 –Half-life of only 5730 years –Used to date very recent events –Carbon-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere –Useful tool for anthropologists, archeologists, and geologists who study very recent Earth history

38 Carbon-14 Carbon-14 is continuously created in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation. There is one atom of radioactive C-14 for every trillion atoms of C-12 in the atmosphere Plants absorb C-14 directly through their leaves in the form of carbon dioxide Animals take in C-14 indirectly when they eat plants Although C-14 disintegrates at a constant rate, it is continuously renewed as long as an organism remains alive. When an organism dies, it stops absorbing new C-14 and its radiocarbon clock is set.

39 Types of radiometric dating Potassium-argon method –K-40 half-life 1.3 billion years –Decays into argon and calcium –Used to date rocks older than 100,00 years old Uranium-lead method –U-238 half-life 4.5 billion years –Decays into lead-206 –Used for rocks more than 10 million years old Rubidium-strontium method –Rb-87 half-life 49 billion years –Decays into strontium-87 –Used for rocks more than 10 million years old Carbon-14 method

40 Lateral continuity –sediment extends laterally in all directions until it thins and pinches out or terminates against the edges of the depositional basin Cross-cutting relationships –an igneous intrusion or a fault must be younger than the rocks it intrudes or displaces Relative-Dating Principles

41 A dark-colored dike has intruded into older light colored granite: the dike is younger than the granite Cross-cutting Relationships North shore of Lake Superior, Ontario Canada

42 A small fault displaces tilted beds: the fault is younger than the beds Cross-cutting Relationships Templin Highway, Castaic, California

43 Back to Steno

44 Why are layers tilted? Deformation of rocks –Occurs after they are deposited –Important factor in relative dating Folding –Anticlines, synclines –Rock bends, but does not break Faulting –Normal, reverse, transform –Rock breaks

45 Folding

46 Faulting

47 The Map That Changed the World

48 The relative geologic time scale has a sequence of –eons –eras –periods –epochs –but no numbers indicating how long ago each of these times occurred Relative Geologic Time Scale

49 Large divisions based on…? Paleozoic Era – Mesozoic Era – Cenozoic Era – Geologic Time Scale

50 Large divisions based on characteristics of fossils Paleozoic Era – early life dominated by invertebrate animals Mesozoic Era – middle life Cenozoic Era – recent life Geologic Time Scale

51 How was the timescale created?

52 Mapping in 1800s using the principles of –Superposition –Original Horizontality –Original Lateral Continuity –Cross-cutting relationships –Also Fossil Correlation How was the timescale created?

53 Radiometric dating is the most common method of obtaining absolute ages –calculated from the natural rates of decay of various natural radioactive elements present in trace amounts in some rocks Other methods? –Tree ring counting –Varves –Ice cores Absolute Dating

54 The discovery of radioactivity near the end of the 1800s allowed absolute ages to be accurately applied to the relative geologic time scale The geologic time scale is a dual scale –a relative scale –and an absolute scale Geologic Time Scale

55 The concept and measurement of geologic time has changed through human history James Ussher ( ) in Ireland –calculated the age of Earth based on recorded history and genealogies in Genesis he announced that Earth was created on October 22, 4004 B.C. a century later it was considered heresy to say Earth was more than about 6000 years old Changes in the Concept of Geologic Time

56 During the 1700s and 1800s Earths age was estimated scientifically –Georges Louis de Buffon ( ) calculated how long Earth took to cool gradually from a molten beginning used melted iron balls of various diameters he estimated Earth was 75,000 years old Changes in the Concept of Geologic Time

57 –Others used rates of deposition of various sediments and thickness of sedimentary rock in the crust gave estimates of <1 million to more than 2 billion years –Or the amount of salt carried by rivers to the ocean and the salinity of seawater John Joly in 1899 obtained a minimum age of 90 million years Changes in the Concept of Geologic Time

58 Neptunism –proposed in 1787 by Abraham Werner ( ) –all rocks, including granite and basalt, were precipitated in an orderly sequence from a primeval, worldwide ocean –Werner was an excellent mineralogist, but is best remembered for his incorrect interpretation of Earth history History of Historical Geology

59 Neptunism and Catastrophism were eventually abandoned –they were not supported by field evidence –basalt was shown to be of igneous origin –volcanic rocks interbedded with sedimentary –primitive rocks showed that igneous activity had occurred throughout geologic time –more than 6 catastrophes were needed to explain field observations The principle of uniformitarianism became the guiding philosophy of geology History of Historical Geology

60 Lord Kelvin ( ) –knew about high temperatures inside of deep mines and reasoned that Earth is losing heat from its interior Assuming Earth was once molten, he used the melting temperature of rocks the size of Earth and the rate of heat loss –to calculate the age of Earth as between 400 and 20 million years Crisis in Geology

61 This age was too young for the geologic processes envisioned by other geologists at that time –leading to a crisis in geology Kelvin did not know about radioactivity as a heat source within the Earth Crisis in Geology

62 The discovery of radioactivity destroyed Kelvins argument for the age of Earth Radioactivity is the spontaneous decay of an atoms nucleus to a more stable form The heat from radioactivity helps explain why the Earth is still warm inside Radioactivity provides geologists with a powerful tool to measure absolute ages of rocks and past geologic events Absolute-Dating Methods

63 Understanding absolute dating requires knowledge of atoms and isotopes: we have it! Atomic mass number = number of protons + number of neutrons Isotopes: different numbers of neutrons Different isotopes have different atomic mass numbers but behave the same chemically Most isotopes are stable –but some are unstable Geologists use decay rates of unstable isotopes to determine absolute ages of rocks Absolute-Dating Methods

64 Radioactive decay is the process whereby an unstable atomic nucleus spontaneously changes into an atomic nucleus of a different element Three types of radioactive decay: –alpha decay, two protons and two neutrons (alpha particle) are emitted from the nucleus Radioactive Decay

65 Half-life of a radioactive isotope is the time it takes for one half of the atoms of the original unstable parent isotope to decay to atoms of a new more stable daughter isotope The half-life of a specific radioactive isotope is constant and can be precisely measured Half-Lives

66 The length of half-lives for different isotopes of different elements can vary from –less than 1/billionth of a second –to 49 billion years Radioactive decay –is geometric not linear –a curved graph Half-Lives

67 In radioactive decay, during each equal time unit, one half-life, the proportion of parent atoms decreases by 1/2 Geometric Radioactive Decay

68 By measuring the parent/daughter ratio and knowing the half-life of the parent which has been determined in the laboratory geologists can calculate the age of a sample containing the radioactive element The parent/daughter ratio is usually determined by a mass spectrometer –an instrument that measures the proportions of atoms with different masses Determining Age

69 For example: –If a rock has a parent/daughter ratio of 1:3 a parent proportion of 25% –and the half-live is 57 million years, how old is the rock? Determining Age –25% means it is 2 half- lives old. –the rock is 57 x 2 =114 million years old.

70 Most radiometric dates are obtained from igneous rocks As magma cools and crystallizes, radioactive parent atoms separate from previously formed daughter atoms –they fit differently into the crystal structure of certain minerals Geologists can use the crystals containing the parents atoms to date the time of crystallization What Materials Can Be Dated?

71 Crystallization of magma separates parent atoms from previously formed daughters This resets the radiometric clock to zero Then the parents gradually decay Igneous Crystallization

72 Closed system is needed for an accurate date –neither parent nor daughter atoms can have been added or removed from the sample since crystallization If leakage of daughters has occurred –it partially resets the radiometric clock and the age will be too young If parents escape, the date will be too old Most reliable dates use multiple methods Sources of Uncertainty

73 Dating techniques are always improving –Presently measurement error is typically <0.5% of the age, and even better than 0.1% –A date of 540 million might have an error of ±2.7 million years or as low as ±0.54 million Sources of Uncertainty

74 a. A mineral has just crystallized from magma. Dating Metamorphism b. As time passes, parent atoms decay to daughters. c. Metamorphism drives the daughters out of the mineral (to other parts of the rock) as it recrystallizes. d. Dating the mineral today yields a date of 350 million years = time of metamorphism, provided the system remains closed during that time. Dating the whole rock yields a date of 700 million years = time of crystallization.

75 The isotopes used in radiometric dating need to be sufficiently long-lived so the amount of parent material left is measurable –Such isotopes include: Parents DaughtersHalf-Life (years) Long-Lived Radioactive Isotope Pairs Used in Dating Uranium 238 Lead billion Uranium 234 Lead million Thorium 232 Lead billion Rubidium 87 Strontium billion Potassium 40 Argon billion Most of these are useful for dating older rocks

76 Mass Spectrometer

77 How do we know the Earth cant be older than about 6-7 b.y.? Moderate half-life isotopes (1 b.y.) If Earth was > 6-7 b.y. old, there wouldnt be many parents left

78 Carbon is found in all life It has 3 isotopes –carbon 12 and 13 are stable but carbon 14 is not –carbon 14 has a half-life of 5730 years –carbon 14 dating uses the carbon 14/carbon 12 ratio of material that was once living The short half-life of carbon 14 makes it suitable for dating material < 70,000 years old It is not useful for most rocks, but is useful for archaeology and young geologic materials Radiocarbon Dating Method

79 Carbon 14 is constantly forming in the upper atmosphere –when a high-energy neutron, a type of cosmic ray, strikes a nitrogen 14 atom it may be absorbed by the nucleus and eject a proton changing it to carbon 14 The 14 C formation rate –is fairly constant –and has been calibrated against tree rings Carbon 14

80 The carbon 14 becomes part of the natural carbon cycle and becomes incorporated into organisms While the organism lives it continues to take in carbon 14 –when it dies the carbon 14 begins to decay without being replenished Thus, carbon 14 dating measures the time of death Carbon 14

81 The age of a tree can be determined by counting the annual growth rings in lower part of the stem (trunk) The width of the rings are related to climate and can be correlated from tree to tree –a procedure called cross-dating The tree-ring time scale now extends back 14,000 years! Tree-Ring Dating Method

82 In cross-dating, tree-ring patterns are used from different trees, with overlapping life spans Tree-Ring Dating Method

83 Summary Uniformitarianism holds that –the laws of nature have been constant through time –and that the same processes operating today have operated in the past –although not necessarily at the same rates

84 Summary The principles of superposition –original horizontality, –lateral continuity –and cross-cutting relationships –are basic for determining relative geologic ages and for interpreting Earth history Radioactivity was discovered during the late 19 th century –and lead to radiometric dating –which allowed geologists to determine absolute ages for geologic events

85 Summary Half-life is the length of time it takes for one-half of the radioactive parent isotope to decay to a stable daughter isotope of a different element The most accurate radiometric dates are obtained from long-lived radioactive isotope/daughter pairs –in igneous rocks

86 Summary The most reliable radiometric ages are obtained using two different pairs in the same rock Carbon 14 dating can be used only for organic matter such as –wood, bones, and shells –and is effective back to about 70,000 years

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