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What is relative dating geology

The table below summarises key features: Gastrioceras listeri is a particularly good example of a ZONE fossil.

As it is free swimming it could have travelled a considerable distance.

The Wheeler Formation has been previously dated to approximately 507 million year old, so we know the trilobite is also about 507 million years old.

But, how can we determine how old a rock formation is, if it hasn’t previously been dated?

Techniques of accurately dating rocks is crucial in establishing the time-gap that exists.

The classic type is the angular unconformity of which Thornton Force in Ingleton and Combs Quarry, Foredale are perhaps the best known local examples.

The laws of physics and chemistry that governed geologic processes in the past are the same as those that govern processes now and in the future.

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Relative dating is used to determine a fossils approximate age by comparing it to similar rocks and fossils of known ages.

(relative geologic timescale) (b) Absolute Dating Following the discovery of radioactivity in 1895, radiometric dating techniques were developed to determine the absolute ages, i.e. In the succession of strata, each layer represents the geographical conditions that occurred over that area at the time the layer was deposited.

In each period of earth's history different fauna and flora evolved with similar faunas being characteristic of similar beds.

When found in rocks as far away as Australia you could reasonably expect those rocks to be the same age as those in Cliviger Valley!

A third fact emerges from the study of stratigraphy - the UNCONFORMITY.


  1. Oct 2, 2008. Relative Dating Steno's Laws. Long before geologists tried to quantify the age of the Earth they developed techniques to determine which geologic events preceded another, what are termed "relative age” relationships. These techniques were first articulated by Nicolas Steno, a Dane living in the Medici.

  2. From the results of studies on the origins of the various kinds of rocks petrology, coupled with studies of rock layering stratigraphy and the fossils they contain paleontology, geologists have associated layers of rocks with sequence of events thought to have occurred over hundreds of.

  3. Age of eruption of lava, ash. • ash can allow dating of sediments in many cases. –Age of intrusion. – Age of metamorphism. • Reliability of Isotopic Dating ? –Multiple methods U-Pb, Rb-Sr, K-Ar, etc. – Combine with Relative Dating Principles. – Powerful means to understand time scales and rates of geological processes.

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