Special Teacher/Student Geologic Time Activity. Isotopic ratios between stable isotopes both on the earth and in meteorites are coming under increasingly close scrutiny, to see what they can tell us about the ultimate sources of the very atoms that make up our planet. Roman poet Lucretius, intellectual heir to the Greek atomists, believed its formation must have been relatively recent, given that there were no records going back beyond the Trojan War. Every once in a while the currents in the liquid core, which create the Earth’s magnetic field, reverse themselves: it is called a geomagnetic reversal. The third referred to the heat of the sun, particularly the rate at which such heat is being lost, compared with the total amount of energy initially available. Worse, they measured inputs but ignored outputs. Using the known rate of change in radio-active elements (radiometric dating), some Earth rocks have been shown to be billions of years old, while the oldest solar system rocks are dated at 4.5 billion years. One referred to the depth of the sediments and the time they would have taken to accumulate; the other referred to the salinity of the oceans, compared with the rate at which rivers are supplying them with sodium salts. For biological objects older than 50,000 years, scientists use radioactive dating to determine the age of rocks surrounding where the material was found. That takes us to the end of this series of papers but not to the end of the story. He inferred that where the layers are not horizontal, they must have been tilted since their deposition and noted that different strata contain different kinds of fossil. The time corresponding to most of these intervals of rock became known as geologic "ages" and "periods", respectively. He was one of the dominant physicists of his time, the Age of Steam. How do scientists calculate the age of the earth? Scientists can determine the age of the seafloor thanks to the changing magnetic field of our planet. But Earths layers of rock did not give up the secret of Earths age easily. In the 1920s, Earth's age crept up toward 3 billion years, making it for a time even older than the universe, which was then estimated to be about 1.8 billion years old. One creationist believes that the floor of the ocean provides evidence that the earth is much younger than the generally accepted age of 4.6 billion … Groups of zones were used to establish larger intervals of stratigraphy, known as geologic "stages" and geologic "systems". By using these methods, or a combination of them, the age of geological formations created by past events and even the fossilized bones of prehistoric animals can be determined.
Once you finish looking at the methods, return here to do a
A small version of the Geologic Column is pictured at the right.
Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners. The first act consists in a direct attack, led by Lord Kelvin, on the extreme uniformitarianism of those such as Charles Lyell, who regarded the earth as indefinitely old and who, with great foresight (or great naivety, depending on your point of view: see the third installment of the 1900 “The Age of the Earth” article by W. J. Sollas), assumed that physical processes would eventually be discovered to power the great engine of erosion and uplift. Discover world-changing science. We can look forward to new answers—and new questions. For many years, scientists have studied the ocean's creatures, the effects of introducing chemicals to the water, and the geologic floor of the world's vast oceans.
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