Law of relative dating

This law was independently discovered by William Smith (1769-1839), a British engineer, while working on excavations for canals in England (Winchester, 2002 p.

131) and by Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), a French anatomist, and Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847), a French naturalist and geologist, during their work on the deposits of the Paris Basin.

The method of reading the order is called stratigraphy (layers of rock are called strata).

Steno's idea that fossils are older than the rock in which they are found hints at this principle, but Hutton is most often given credit for this principle.states that fossil organisms succeed one another in a definite, irreversible, and determinable order.

For a fossil to be a good index fossil, it needs to have lived during one specific time period, be easy to identify and have been abundant and found in many places. If you find ammonites in a rock in the South Island and also in a rock in the North Island, you can say that both rocks are Mesozoic.

Different species of ammonites lived at different times within the Mesozoic, so identifying a fossil species can help narrow down when a rock was formed.

Theconcept of geologic time or deep time was a logical consequence of this theory.

In 1788 John Playfair came to see Hutton’s Unconformity in Inchbonny.

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Not only did the rock layers indicate changing environments they also revealed that different life forms have existed in different times.

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