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Students begin by observing a photograph and a diagram of rock layers near Whanganui, watch an animation about how the layers were formed, then use an interactive labelling diagram to work out the order in which the rocks were created.
The activity offers literacy opportunities as well as practice using the science capability 'Interpret representations'.
Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.
They, however, do not have the sensitivity to distinguish atomic isobars (atoms of different elements that have the same atomic weight, such as in the case of carbon 14 and nitrogen 14—the most common isotope of nitrogen).
Different species of ammonites lived at different times within the Mesozoic, so identifying a fossil species can help narrow down when a rock was formed.
Correlation can involve matching an undated rock with a dated one at another location.
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).