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IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE EARTH FORMED

ALONG WITH THE SOLAR SYSTEM 4.6 BILLION


YEARS AGO (4,600 MYA)
GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE
A SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR EVENTS IN EARTHS HISTORY
EON largest segment of geologic time
ERA
PERIOD
EPOCH smallest segment of geologic time

RELATIVE TIME

VS.

PLACES EVENTS IN A
SEQUENCE BUT DOES
NOT IDENTIFY THEIR
ACTUAL DATE OF
OCCURRENCE

ABSOLUTE TIME
IDENTIFIES THE ACTUAL
DATES OF GEOLOGIC
EVENTS

EXAMPLE
A LIST IN
CHRONOLOGICAL
ORDER OF WHAT YOU
HAVE DONE TODAY UP
UNTIL THIS TIME

THE EXACT TIMES AT


WHICH YOU DID
THESE THINGS

LAW OF SUPERPOSITIONIN UNDISTURBED


SEDIMENTARY ROCKS THE
OLDEST ROCK LAYERS
ARE AT THE BOTTOM AND
THE YOUNGEST ARE AT
THE TOP.

LAW OF CROSS-CUTTING RELATIONSHIPS- AN


IGNEOUS INTRUSION IS YOUNGER THAN THE
ROCK IT HAS INTRUDED INTO. (LOOK AT THE
WHISKERS!)

LAW OF INCLUDED FRAGMENTS - IF FRAGMENTS OF


ONE TYPE OF ROCK ARE FOUND IN ANOTHER ROCK
LAYER THE ROCK FRAGMENTS MUST BE OLDER
THAN THE ROCK LAYER IN WHICH THEY ARE
FOUND
FAULTED AND FOLDED LAYERS - LAYERS OF
ROCK THAT HAVE BEEN FAULTED OR FOLDED
MUST HAVE BEEN PRESENT BEFORE THE ACTIONS
OF FAULTING OR FOLDING TOOK PLACE
FOLDING

FAULTING

UNCONFORMITY- A PLACE IN THE ROCK RECORD WHERE


LAYERS OF ROCK ARE MISSING BECAUSE OF UPLIFT AND
EROSION. THE RESULT CAN BE A LARGE AGE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ROCKS ABOVE AND THOSE
BELOW THE EROSIONAL SURFACE (IT APPEARS LIKE A
SQUIGGLY LINE IN A CROSS-SECTION)

PLACE THE FOLLOWING EVENTS IN ORDER STARTING


WITH THE OLDEST.
E

L
B
I
G
F

M
C
D

H
J

MATCHING OF ROCK
LAYERS THAT CAN BE SEEN
AT THE EARTHS SURFACE,
OVER A LARGE AREA

AN OUTCROP IS EXPOSED
ROCK LAYERS AT THE
EARTHS SURFACE
A KEY BED IS A THIN, WIDESPREAD LAYER, USUALLY OF
VOLCANIC ASH, THAT CAN BE USED TO CORRELATE AN
EXACT POINT OF TIME

A FOSSIL IS ANY EVIDENCE OF EARLIER LIFE


PRESERVED IN THE ROCK
ORIGINAL REMAINS (RARE) THE ACTUAL
UNCHANGED REMAINS OF THE PLANT OR
ANIMAL ARE PRESERVED.
REPLACED REMAINS THE SOFT PARTS OF THE
ORIGINAL ANIMAL HAVE DISAPPEARED AND THE
HARD PARTS HAVE BEEN REPLACED BY MINERAL
MATERIAL. (PETRIFIED WOOD)

MOLDS AND CASTS FOSSIL SHELLS OR BONES ARE


DISSOLVED COMPLETELY OUT OF THE ROCK LEAVING A
HOLLOW DEPRESSION IN THE ROCK. NEW MINERAL
MATERIAL FILLS THE MOLD IT FORMS A CAST OF THE
ORIGINAL FOSSIL.

TRACE FOSSILS EVIDENCE OF


LIFE OTHER THEN REMAINS,
WHICH INCLUDES ANY
IMPRESSIONS LEFT IN THE ROCK.
(TRAILS, FOOTPRINTS, TRACKS,
BURROWS)

INDEX FOSSIL
EASILY IDENTIFIABLE
SHORT-LIVED
WIDESPREAD OCCURRENCE

MEASURING ABSOLUTE TIME


TREE RINGS
EACH RING REPRESENTS A SINGLE YEAR
(SPRING/FALL) THE WIDTH OF THE RING
DEPENDS UPON THE TEMPERATURE AND
RAINFALL
VARVES
GLACIAL LAKE DEPOSITS. A THICK
LIGHT COLORED LAYER IN THE
SUMMER AND A THIN DARK LAYER
IN THE WINTER

RADIOACTIVE DATING
USED TO DATE FAR BACK IN TIME. CERTAIN ROCKS CONTAIN
RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPES
RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPES ARE ATOMS OF
ELEMENTS THAT GIVE OFF RADIATION FROM
THEIR NUCLEI
RADIOACTIVE DECAY IS THE PROCESS BY
WHICH A RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPE CHANGES
INTO A NEW STABLE ELEMENT

THE RATE AT WHICH A RADIOACTIVE ELEMENT DECAYS. IT


IS THE TIME IT TAKES FOR HALF OF THE ATOMS OF THE
RADIOACTIVE ELEMENT TO DECAY TO A STABLE END
PRODUCT (SEE PAGE 1 OF THE ESRT)
AT THE END OF EACH HALF-LIFE, HALF OF THE
RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL REMAINS
PARENT ISOTOPE = THE RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPE THAT BEGINS
DAUGHTER ISOTOPE = THE STABLE ISOTOPE THAT HAS BEEN CHANGED

RADIOCARBON DATING USES THE RADIOACTIVE


ISOTOPE CARBON-14 FOUND IN ALL LIVING THINGS.
BECAUSE CARBON-14 IS CONTINUALLY ABSORBED BY FOOD
AND WATER IT STAYS CONSTANT IN LIVING THINGS. WHEN
THE LIVING THING DIES THE PERCENTAGE OF CARBON-14
DECREASES AT THE RATE OF ITS HALF-LIFE. CAN BE USED TO
DATE BACK ABOUT 100,000 YEARS

URANIUM LEAD METHOD IS USEFUL TO DATE ROCKS


OLDER THAN 10 MILLION YEARS. CAN BE USED ONLY ON
IGNEOUS ROCKS THAT CONTAIN THE RIGHT KIND OF
URANIUM

RUBIDIUM-STRONTIUM METHOD CAN ALSO BE USED


TO DATE OLDER ROCKS BECAUSE OF ITS LONG HALF-LIFE. IT
IS ALSO VERY COMMONLY FOUND IN IGNEOUS ROCKS.

POTASSIUM-ARGON METHOD IS VERY USEFUL SINCE


POTASSIUM-40 CAN BE FOUND IN METAMORPHIC,
SEDIMENTARY, AND IGNEOUS ROCKS. IT CAN DATE OLDER
ROCKS BUT MAY ALSO DATE ROCKS AS YOUNG AS 50,000
YEARS

Precambrian time is all of the geologic


time before the Paleozoic Era.

Precambrian rocks lack fossils because most of the


organisms were microscopic bacteria and algae

Stromatolites are algal reefs that make up a large part of the


fossils from the Precambrian.

HALF OF THE WORLDS METALLIC MINERALS ARE


FOUND IN PRECAMBRIAN ROCKS

It is very difficult to interpret the rock record from the


Precambrian for 3 reasons

1.) THE RECORD COVERS AN INCREDIBLY LARGE


PERIOD OF TIME
2.) Many Precambrian rocks are severely deformed and
folded
3.) MOSTLY LACKING IN INDEX FOSSILS WHICH
MAKES ROCK CORRELATION DIFFICULT

THE PALEOZOIC ERA MARKS THE BEGINNING OF AN


ABUNDANT FOSSIL RECORD.
MANY ANIMALS HAD HARD
SHELLS AND SKELETONS
NORTH AMERICA WAS OVER THE EQUATOR AND
OUR CLIMATE WAS WARM WITH FEW SEASONAL
CHANGES
CAMBRIAN PERIOD
TRILOBITES AND BRACHIOPODS ARE THE MOST
COMMON FOSSIL
TRILOBITES ARE FOUND THROUGHOUT THE
PALEOZOIC ERA BUT NEVER MORE ABUNDANT AND
WIDESPREAD THEN THE CAMBRIAN (INDEX FOSSIL)

THE BURGESS SHALE IS A ROCK FORMATION FOUND


IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS OF CANADA. 120
DIFFERENT KINDS OF ANIMALS FROM THE MIDDLE
OF THE CAMBRIAN PERIOD CAN BE FOUND THERE.

ORDOVICIAN
ALL LIFE STILL IN THE
OCEANS
THE END OF THE PERIOD IS MARKED BY THE TACONIC
OROGENY WHEN A PIECE OF AFRICA BROKE OFF AND
COLLIDED WITH N. AMERICA. THIS PRODUCED THE
TACONIC MOUNTAINS

SILURIAN
THE EURYPTERIDS APPEARED DURING THIS
PERIOD. THEY ARE THE NYS FOSSIL. THEY WERE
CALLED SEA SCORPIONS AND ARE THOUGHT TO
BE DISTANT COUSINS OF THE TRILOBITE.
LAND ANIMALS ALSO APPEARED. DISTANT
COUSINS OF SPIDERS, MILLIPEDES, AND
SCORPIONS
CLIMATE BECAME VERY DRY IN N. AMERICA
AND SHALLOW SEAS THAT COVERED THE
CONTINENT EVAPORATED. (ROCK SALT BEDS IN
WESTERN NY)

DEVONIAN
PERIOD
AGE OF THE FISHES
FISH WERE JAWLESS AND
WERE COVERED WITH
HEAVY PLATES.
POOR SWIMMERS THAT
REACHED UP TO 9 METERS
IN LENGTH

MISSISSIPPIAN AND PENNSYLVANIAN


PERIOD
REPTILES EVOLVED AS THE NEW LAND
ANIMAL

CLIMATE WAS WARM AND RAINY AND THE LAND


WAS COVERED BY MANY SWAMPS. AS TREES AND
FERNS FELL INTO THE SWAMP THEY SLOWLY
CHANGED OVER TIME INTO COAL.