Relative dating of rock layers
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Stratigraphy is a branch of geology concerned with the study of rock layers strata and layering stratification. It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks. Stratigraphy has two related subfields: lithostratigraphy lithologic stratigraphy and biostratigraphy biologic stratigraphy. Catholic priest Nicholas Steno established the theoretical basis for stratigraphy when he introduced the law of superposition , the principle of original horizontality and the principle of lateral continuity in a work on the fossilization of organic remains in layers of sediment.
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7.1: Relative Dating
1. Relative age dating | Digital Atlas of Ancient Life
Dating techniques are procedures used by scientists to determine the age of rocks, fossils, or artifacts. Relative dating methods tell only if one sample is older or younger than another; absolute dating methods provide an approximate date in years. The latter have generally been available only since Many absolute dating techniques take advantage of radioactive decay , whereby a radioactive form of an element decays into a non-radioactive product at a regular rate. Others, such as amino acid racimization and cation-ratio dating, are based on chemical changes in the organic or inorganic composition of a sample. In recent years, a few of these methods have come under close scrutiny as scientists strive to develop the most accurate dating techniques possible. Relative dating methods determine whether one sample is older or younger than another.
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Dating Rock Layers
The law of superposition is an axiom that forms one of the bases of the sciences of geology , archaeology , and other fields pertaining to geological stratigraphy. In its plainest form, it states that in undeformed stratigraphic sequences, the oldest strata will lie at the bottom of the sequence, while newer material stacks upon the surface to form new deposits over time. This is paramount to stratigraphic dating , which requires a set of assumptions, including that the law of superposition holds true and that an object cannot be older than the materials of which it is composed. These findings can inform the community on the fossil record covering the relevant strata, to determine which species coexisted temporally and which species existed successively in perhaps an evolutionarily or phylogenetically relevant way. The law of superposition was first proposed in by the Danish scientist Nicolas Steno , and is present as one of his major theses in the groundbreaking seminal work Dissertationis prodromus