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Relative dating uses a combination of fossil studies and structural interpretation to draw conclusions about the geological history of an area.

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Such recurring events as mountain building and sea encroachment and believed to be recorded in rock layers that comprise units of geologic time.

Geologists have divided the Earth's history into Eras -- broad spans based on the general character of life that existed during these times -- and Periods -- shorter spans based partly on evidence of major disturbances of the Earth's crust.

Scientists also use direct evidence from observations of the rock layers themselves to help determine the relative age of rock layers.

Obviously, the fossil assemblages change from period to period.

When rocks are made up of distinct strata, we use stratigraphic succession to determine the relative ages of each of the layers in the rock.

If the letters "T" and "C" represent fossils in the oldest relative dating fossil lab layer, they are the oldest fossils, or the first fossils formed in the past for this sequence of rock layers.

For example, it is believed that during a particular episode the land surface was raised in one part of the world to form high plateaus and mountain ranges.

After the uplift of the land, the forces of erosion attacked the highlands and the eroded rock debris was transported and redeposited in the lowlands.

We use index fossils to identify periods of geologic history and to match up pieces of rock strata that have been separated by large distances.

Using the results of these activities, teachers can then lead students in a discussion of the Law of Superposition and the identification and value of index fossils. Custom Courses are courses that you create from Study.

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