Relative dating of rock

Faults are younger than the rocks they cut; accordingly, if a fault is found that penetrates some formations but not those on top of it, then the formations that were cut are older than the fault, and the ones that are not cut must be younger than the fault.

Finding the key bed in these situations may help determine whether the fault is a normal fault or a thrust fault.

As a result, xenoliths are older than the rock which contains them.

The principle of original horizontality states that the deposition of sediments occurs as essentially horizontal beds.

The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah is a great example of Original Horizontality and the Law of Superposition, two important ideas used in relative dating.

These strata make up much of the famous prominent rock formations in widely spaced protected areas such as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Explanations: A – folded rock strata cut by a thrust fault; B – large intrusion (cutting through A); C – erosional angular unconformity (cutting off A & B) on which rock strata were deposited; D – volcanic dyke (cutting through A, B & C); E – even younger rock strata (overlying C & D); F – normal fault (cutting through A, B, C & E).

The principle of cross-cutting relationships pertains to the formation of faults and the age of the sequences through which they cut.

As organisms exist at the same time period throughout the world, their presence or (sometimes) absence may be used to provide a relative age of the formations in which they are found.From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone.Photo from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah.This is because it is not possible for a younger layer to slip beneath a layer previously deposited.The only disturbance that the layers experience is bioturbation, in which animals and/or plants move things in the layers.

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