Geologic dating techniques

Because geologic units occurring at the same time but from different parts of the world can often look different and contain different fossils, there are many examples where the same period was historically given different names in different locales.For example, in North America the Early Cambrian is referred to as the Waucoban series, which is then subdivided into zones based on trilobites.Nicholas Steno laid down the principles underlying geologic time scales in the late seventeenth century.carbon dating, carbon-14 dating, radiocarbon dating - a chemical analysis used to determine the age of organic materials based on their content of the radioisotope carbon-14; believed to be reliable up to 40,000 years techniques, identifying the sources of knowledge about Earth's interior structure and composition, and techniques to interpret the climatological history of the planet--help visitors form meaningful connections to a site.The standard stratigraphic column, based on fossil plant and animal assemblages from different European strata, is used to date fossils in strata from other parts of the Earth and is the foundation of the geologic time scale.The application of radiometric dating techniques began early in the 20th century.The scale, developed before absolute dating techniques were discovered, is a relative geologic scale that provides a standard of reference for dating rocks throughout the world.

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Originally, geologic time scale divisions were based on the natural breaks in the stratigraphic column.

The breaks were thought to have resulted from worldwide events of mountain building during which no sedimentation occurred and left gaps in the record of rocks, that is, an unconformity.

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The modern geologic time scale shown in Figure A1 was nearly complete by the end of the 19th century and was based on stratigraphic and fossil studies in northern Europe and the United States.