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. The first practical large-scale application of stratigraphy was by William Smith in the s and early 19th century.
1. Relative age dating
Relative dating - Wikipedia
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.
Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events i. In geology, rock or superficial deposits , fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another. Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating in the early 20th century, which provided a means of absolute dating , archaeologists and geologists used relative dating to determine ages of materials. Though relative dating can only determine the sequential order in which a series of events occurred, not when they occurred, it remains a useful technique.
Melissa graduated from NC State University with a Bachelor's Degree in geology in and currently works as a lab technician. Figuring out the geologic history of an area seems like a daunting task, but there are several strategies that geologists use to figure out which rocks are older than other rocks, and what geologic processes occurred in a particular order. Geologists can numerically date certain rocks by using the radioactive decay of elements trapped in rocks or minerals to figure out their exact age. However, these radioactive isotopes aren't always present in a rock, so geologists must use context clues to build a calendar called a geologic timescale of when each rock layer in a formation was created.