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Is a scale used to determine relative age of the earth

Evidence used to determine age of the Earth is concealed(hidden) in

the rocks that form the Earth's crust and surface. They record the

earth shaping events and episodes of the past.

Two scales are used to date these episodes and to measure the age

of the Earth:
1. A relative time scale ; based on the sequence of layering of the rocks and the

evolution of life; the exact age of a rock or layer is unknown but its age relative to other

rocks or layers

2. A radiometric (absolute) time scale; based on the natural radioactivity of chemical

elements in some of the rocks i.e. an absolute age in years can be assigned to a rock

or layer

Relative time

Geologic Time Scale was based solely on the concept of relative time – i.e. the estimation

of geologic time based on the occurrence of geological events relative to each other
Relative age dating was aided by advances in the following



Succession of fauna


Cross cutting relations

Physiographic development
Physiographic development: Continuous and sequential process of landform

modification establishes a predictable continuity which is useful for relative geologic

age dating.


The study of the relationship among the strata of the earth’s crust. The

basis of stratigraphy is the concept of superposition (above).

Types of Unconformities
1. Angular unconformity: The lower, older beds dip at a different,

higher angle, and maybe a different direction, to the younger,

upper beds.
3. Nonconformity: sedimentary rocks formed at the Earth's

surface overly rocks that formed deep in the Earth, such as

intrusive igneous rocks or metamorphic rocks, which have

been exposed at the surface by weathering and erosion.

Radiometric Time
The radiometric time scale is based on the determination of absolute

geologic time from radioactive isotopic decay. Since the

development of knowledge of radioactive processes from 1939, this

has become the most reliable method of rock dating.

The basic principle is that a radioactive “parent” decays into a stable

“daughter” element at a constant rate which is dependent on the

half-life of the parent.

The most reliable dates are obtained from igneous rocks as the

moment of crystallization yields a sharp starting point.

Metamorphic dates generally yield a date for the last metamorphic


Radiometric dating of sedimentary rocks must consider that these

rocks are invariably composed of particles from several sources.

Main radioactive elements

Uranium – Lead

Potassium – Argon

Carbon 14

Using the methods of absolute and relative dating, geologists have

been able to establish the absolute times for the geologic column.
Geologic Column
Major divisions of Geologic Time with brief explanations of each are

shown in the following scale of relative geologic time (Table 1), which

is arranged in chronological order with the oldest division at the

bottom, the youngest at the top.


• Periods:

Cold Oysters Seldom Develop Many Pretty Pearls: Their Juices

Congeal Too Quickly

• Epochs:

Pigeon Egg Omelets Make Petite People Happy