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Relative age dating practice

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As mentioned in an earlier article, carbon isotopes are quite good at allowing us to calculate the age of fossils.Another way that fossils are dated is through relative age dating.Free 5-day trial Use this quiz and worksheet to assess your understanding of the techniques geologists use to establish relative dating and the relationships that occurred over geologic time periods.

The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah is a great example of Original Horizontality and the Law of Superposition, two important ideas used in relative dating.These strata make up much of the famous prominent rock formations in widely spaced protected areas such as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park.From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone.Given this, the law of superposition, an axiom of geochronology, allows us to determine that the highest layers are newer, while the lower ones are older because the layers just stack onto each other continuously.The layers are quite visible in the picture below of a stratigraphic column along the northern bank of Isfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.One could easily see the relative age dating come into use in practice.