To determine the relative age of different rocks, geologists start with the assumption that unless something has happened, in a sequence of sedimentary rock layers, the newer rock layers will be on top of older ones. This rule is common sense, but it serves as a powerful reference point.
The term isotope is formed from the Greek roots isos (ἴσος "equal") and topos (τόπος "place"), meaning "the same place"; thus, the meaning behind the name is that different isotopes of a single element occupy the same position on the periodic table.
All isotopes of a given element have the same number of protons in each atom.
Students not only want to know how old a fossil is, but they want to know how that age was determined.
Some very straightforward principles are used to determine the age of fossils.
It wasn't until well into the 20th century that enough information had accumulated about the rate of radioactive decay that the age of rocks and fossils in number of years could be determined through radiometric age dating.
This activity on determining age of rocks and fossils is intended for 8th or 9th grade students.
It is estimated to require four hours of class time, including approximately one hour total of occasional instruction and explanation from the teacher and two hours of group (team) and individual activities by the students, plus one hour of discussion among students within the working groups.
Explore this link for additional information on the topics covered in this lesson: This activity will help students to have a better understanding of the basic principles used to determine the age of rocks and fossils. Objectives of this activity are: 1) To have students determine relative age of a geologically complex area.
Relative age dating also means paying attention to crosscutting relationships.
Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type.
In a way this field, called geochronology, is some of the purest detective work earth scientists do.