ch23 introduction to earth science

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• Geological Time • The Painted Desert, Arizona This landscape has a story to tell, and each individual rock and even the colors mean something about the past • Fossils • Early Ideas about Fossils – Herodotus • realized that fossil shells found far from oceans were remnants of an ancient sea – Aristotle • Believed in Spontaneous Generation • Thought that fossils grew in place in rocks – Leonardo da Vinci • Argued that fossils were remnants of living organisms from the Earths past history – William “Strata” Smith • Discovered a relationship among the strata from different areas • Found that each strata has a distinct group of fossils associated with it and that these fossils were different from the fossils found in other strata • Types of Fossilization – Preservation or alteration of hard parts • This is the actual preservation of the hard parts themselves • Could include shells, bones, exoskeletons, etc… – Preservation of the shape • Mineralization – The filling of pores with calcium carbonate, silica, or pyrite • Replacement – Dissolving of the original material and depositing new material one ion at a time (ion exchange) – Preservation of signs of activity • Footprints • Bones of prey • The fossil record of the hard parts is beautifully preserved, along with a carbon film, showing a detailed outline of the fish and some of its internal structure • Origin of molds and casts (A) Formation of a mold (B) Formation of a cast • These logs of petrified wood are in the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona • Reading Rocks • Arranging Events in Order – Principle of uniformity • Stated that the present is the key to the past • Look at geological features of today’s Earth as being shaped by its past • States that the processes that are going on today to shape the Earth are the same processes that have always been going on • Similarity of fossils suggests similarity of ages, even in different rocks widely separated in space • This dinosaur footprint is in shale near Tuba City, Arizona It tells you something about the relative age of the shale, since it must have been soft mud when the dinosaur stepped here • (A)Fossil trilobites from Cambrian rocks (B) Fossil ammonites from Permian rocks • Geological Time • Early Attempts at Earth Dating – Introduction • Archbishop Ussher of Ireland counted up the generations of people mentioned in the Bible and decided that the Earth was created at 9:00 AM on Tuesday, October 26 4004 BC • At the end of the 18th century James Hutton reasoned that the Earth must be much older • People began to look for a way of dating the Earth using some sort of Geological Clock – Geological Clocks • Process must have been present since the Earth was first created • The process must occur at a uniform rate • The process must be able to be measured – Clocks considered • Rate of salt addition to the ocean – Resulted in an age for the Earth of 100 million years • Rate of sediment deposition – Resulted in an age for the Earth of 20 to 1,500 million Years • Rate of cooling of the Earth – Resulted in an age for the Earth of 20 to 40 million • Modern Techniques – Radioactive decay • Measure the rate of radioactive decay of unstable elements within the crystals of certain elements • Since decay rates are constant the ratio of the decay product to the remaining amount of the original element can be used as a measure of the age of the material in which it is found – Geomagnetic time scale • Looks at the duration and number of magnetic field reversals occurring during the past million years • Used in combination with Radiometric dating • The Geological Time Scale – Eras • Cenezoic – Time of recent life – Fossils resemble modern day living organisms • Mesazoic – Time of middle life – Some fossils resemble modern day living organisms – Some are different from any living organism on the Earth today • Paleozoic – Time of ancient life – Fossils are different from anything found on the Earth today • Precambrian – Time before the time of ancient life – Very few fossils are found in this time period – Periods • Eras were further divided into Periods – Epochs • Periods are further divided into Epochs • Geologic history is divided into four main eras The Precambrian era was first, lasting the first billion years, or about 85 percent of the total 4.6 billion years of geologic time The Paleozoic lasted about 10 percent of geologic time, the Mesozoic about percent, and the Cenozoic only about 1.5 percent of all geologic time • The divisions of the geologic time scale • The periods of the Paleozoic era, which refers to the time of ancient life Ancient life means that the fossils for this time period are very different form anything living on the earth today Each period represents a dominant life form of a different species of animal This pie chart compares the relative time that each period lasted
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