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18 Apr

Time factors of millions and billions of years is difficult even for adults to comprehend.

However, "relative" dating or time can be an easy concept for students to learn.

We'll even visit the Grand Canyon to solve the mystery of the Great Unconformity!

Imagine that you're a geologist, studying the amazing rock formations of the Grand Canyon.

Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata.

Once students begin to grasp "relative" dating, they can extend their knowledge of geologic time by exploring radiometric dating and developing a timeline of Earth's history.

Your goal is to study the smooth, parallel layers of rock to learn how the land built up over geologic time.

Now imagine that you come upon a formation like this: What do you think of it? How can you make any conclusions about rock layers that make such a crazy arrangement?

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Once Steno recognized that the fossils he was contemplating (sharks teeth and sea shells) were formed in the sediments of oceans he was able to work out the basic rules of stratigraphy.Relative dating cannot establish absolute age, but it can establish whether one rock is older or younger than another.Relative dating requires an extensive knowledge of stratigraphic succession, a fancy term for the way rock strata are built up and changed by geologic processes.A chance encounter between determined fishermen and a great white shark off the Tuscan coast in 1666 sparked a chain of events that would help change humans views of fossils and Earth’s geologic past (Cutler 2003, pp. Nicolas Steno (1638-1686) dissected the head of this shark and realized fossil tongue stones believed to be petrified snake or dragon tongues were actually fossil shark teeth (Prothero 1998, p. One problem still existed, how do fossils become embedded in solid rock?Steno recognized that fossils represent organisms that became buried in sediment, which later turned into rock.Discover how geologists study the layers in sedimentary rock to establish relative age.Learn how inclusions and unconformities can tell us stories about the geologic past.The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will be deeper in a site than more recent layers, was the summary outcome of 'relative dating' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century.The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith.Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events (i.e., the age of an object in comparison to another), without necessarily determining their absolute age, (i.e. In geology, rock or superficial deposits, fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another.Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating which provided a means of absolute dating in the early 20th century, archaeologists and geologists used this technique to determine ages of materials.