Students are given a short introduction to fossils, strata, Steno's law of superposition, and the development of the geologic time scale from initial description of systems, through the realization that fossils could be used to correlate between systems, to the assembly of the modern geologic time scale. Then, each student in the course is given a sheet of paper with a simple stratigraphic column and associated fossils representing a geologic system on one side and a short description of the location and history of discovery of the system on the other. On a large wall, students then assemble four geologic columns from their systems representing mainland Europe, Great Britain, the Eastern U.S. and the Western U.S. using the fossils illustrated on their sheets to correlate systems. The instructor guides this process by placing the first system on the wall and by providing some narration as the columns take shape. Europe and Great Britain are assembled first, one sheet at a time, providing when completed the framework of the modern geologic time scale. Once this is up on the wall, the remaining students can assemble the other two columns in minutes using fossils to correlate between American and European systems. A temporal gap in the Grand Canyon sequence provides an opportunity to discuss the incompleteness of the rock record in any one place and a system composed of igneous and metamorphic rocks with no fossils is used to point out the difference between radiometric (absolute) and biostratigraphic (relative) dating.


    Education Levels:

    • Grade 1
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    Higher Education,NSDL_SetSpec_380601,Undergraduate (Lower Division),oai:nsdl.org:2200/20100502195931431T,Vocational/Professional Development Education,Biostratigraphy/Biogeography,NSDL



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