Relative Vs. Absolute Dating: The Ultimate Face-off
Relative time - named subdivisions of the Earth's geology in a specific Absolute time - numerical ages, often expressed in "millions of years. Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events without necessarily determining their absolute age (i.e. Don't worry, this lesson isn't about how to take a stone out to dinner. Instead, it is about how geologists and archaeologists use different.
Relative dating - Wikipedia
There are a number of different types of intrusions, including stocks, laccolithsbatholithssills and dikes. Cross-cutting relationships[ edit ] Cross-cutting relations can be used to determine the relative ages of rock strata and other geological structures.
The principle of cross-cutting relationships pertains to the formation of faults and the age of the sequences through which they cut. Faults are younger than the rocks they cut; accordingly, if a fault is found that penetrates some formations but not those on top of it, then the formations that were cut are older than the fault, and the ones that are not cut must be younger than the fault.
Finding the key bed in these situations may help determine whether the fault is a normal fault or a thrust fault. For example, in sedimentary rocks, it is common for gravel from an older formation to be ripped up and included in a newer layer.
A similar situation with igneous rocks occurs when xenoliths are found.
These foreign bodies are picked up as magma or lava flows, and are incorporated, later to cool in the matrix. As a result, xenoliths are older than the rock which contains them. Original horizontality[ edit ] The principle of original horizontality states that the deposition of sediments occurs as essentially horizontal beds. Observation of modern marine and non-marine sediments in a wide variety of environments supports this generalization although cross-bedding is inclined, the overall orientation of cross-bedded units is horizontal.
This is because it is not possible for a younger layer to slip beneath a layer previously deposited. This principle allows sedimentary layers to be viewed as a form of vertical time line, a partial or complete record of the time elapsed from deposition of the lowest layer to deposition of the highest bed.
As organisms exist at the same time period throughout the world, their presence or sometimes absence may be used to provide a relative age of the formations in which they are found.
Based on principles laid out by William Smith almost a hundred years before the publication of Charles Darwin 's theory of evolutionthe principles of succession were developed independently of evolutionary thought. The principle becomes quite complex, however, given the uncertainties of fossilization, the localization of fossil types due to lateral changes in habitat facies change in sedimentary strataand that not all fossils may be found globally at the same time.
As a result, rocks that are otherwise similar, but are now separated by a valley or other erosional feature, can be assumed to be originally continuous. Layers of sediment do not extend indefinitely; rather, the limits can be recognized and are controlled by the amount and type of sediment available and the size and shape of the sedimentary basin.
Relative Vs. Absolute Dating: The Ultimate Face-off
Sediment will continue to be transported to an area and it will eventually be deposited. However, the layer of that material will become thinner as the amount of material lessens away from the source. Bones from fossils absorb fluorine from the groundwater. The amount of fluorine absorbed indicates how long the fossil has been buried in the sediments.
This technique solely depends on the traces of radioactive isotopes found in fossils. The rate of decay of these elements helps determine their age, and in turn the age of the rocks. Physical structure of living beings depends on the protein content in their bodies. The changes in this content help determine the relative age of these fossils. Each tree has growth rings in its trunk.
Geological Time Scale
This technique dates the time period during which these rings were formed. It determines the period during which certain object was last subjected to heat. It is based on the concept that heated objects absorb light, and emit electrons.
The emissions are measured to compute the age. Differentiation Using a Venn Diagram A Venn diagram depicts both dating methods as two individual sets.
The area of intersection of both sets depicts the functions common to both. Because of continual refinement, none of the values depicted in this diagram should be considered definitive, even though some have not changed significantly in a long time and are very well constrained e. The overall duration and relative length of these large geologic intervals is unlikely to change much, but the precise numbers may "wiggle" a bit as a result of new data.
This geological time scale is based upon Harland et al. Other changes have been proposed since e. The time scale is depicted in its traditional form with oldest at the bottom and youngest at the top -- the present day is at the zero mark. Geologic time is finely subdivided through most of the Phanerozoic see Harland et al.GEO 201 Geologic Time - Relative Age Dating
Because of the vast difference in scale, the younger intervals have been successively expanded to the right to show some of these finer subdivisions. Earth Science Week Editor's Note: