Dating a fossil

Relative dating is used to arrange geological events, and the rocks they leave behind, in a sequence.The method of reading the order is called stratigraphy (layers of rock are called strata).Replacement and Recrystallization - Replacement occurs when the shell, bone or other tissue is replaced with another mineral.A shell is said to be recrystallized when the original skeletal compounds are still present but in a different crystal form, as from aragonite to calcite.Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.

The activity offers literacy opportunities as well as practice using the science capability 'Interpret representations'.

Geologists have studied the order in which fossils appeared and disappeared through time and rocks. Fossils can help to match rocks of the same age, even when you find those rocks a long way apart.

This matching process is called correlation, which has been an important process in constructing geological timescales.

Some of the most useful fossils for dating purposes are very small ones.

For example, microscopic dinoflagellates have been studied and dated in great detail around the world.

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