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Dating the Earth Practice Questions

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Updated on Sep 25, 2011

Review the following concepts: Dating the Earth

Practice Question

1. Geologists whose specialty is to study the layers of rock are called

a. tectonicists.

b. metamorphologers.

c. stratigraphers.

d. volcanologists.

2. An extinct kind of ancient tree whose fossils are so well defined in time that they can be used to date rocks is called which of the following?

a. keystone fossil

b. index fossil

c. bedded fossil

d. specific fossil

3. What is the name of the kind of unconformity between a lower, thick layer of igneous rock and the sedimentary beds above (assume no folding)?

a. nonconformity

b. disconformity

c. horizontality

d. angular unconformity

4. Which of the following is true?

a. Formations are parts of strata; both are types of beds.

b. Strata are parts of formations; both are types of beds.

c. Beds are parts of formations; both are types of strata.

d. Formation are parts of beds; both are types of strata.

5. The sediments that form the Grand Canyon were deposited over approximately what time interval?

a. 3 billion years

b. 300 million years

c. 30 million years

d. 3,000 thousand years

6. An atom of a chemical element that is a radioisotope has which one of the following?

a. an unstable nucleusm

b. excess electrons  

c. an unusual positive charge

d. energy turning into mass

7. What is the name of the daughter product of carbon-14?

a. argon

b. carbon-13

c. nitrogen

d. carbon-12

8. Assume that a rock, when it was formed, had a certain amount of radioisotope, and that today, it has of that original amount. For how many half-lives of that isotope has the rock "lived"?

a. 3

b. 8

c. 2

d.

9. Potassium–argon measurements can be used to date what?

a. sedimentary rocks, because there was no potassium when the rock was formed

b. igneous rocks, because there was no potassium when the rock was formed

c. sedimentary rocks, because there was no argon when the rock was formed

d. igneous rocks, because there was no argon when the rock was formed

10. Determining dates by using radioisotopes has given the oldest ages which one of the following?

a. the moon

b. meteorites

c. Earth

d. the sun

11. Assume a stratigrapher is studying a large formation of Mesozoic rocks. She thinks she can discern three main layers, corresponding to the three periods of the Mesozoic. She is sure that the principle of superposition holds. What is the order of rock layers that she finds, from the uppermost, to the middle layer, to the lowermost?

a. Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous

b. Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic

c. Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceousd.

d. Triassic, Cretaceous, Jurassic

12. A geologist is studying a type of unconformity called a disconformity. Which two layers might possibly be the one being studied? Assume the first in the pair is on top, the second is below the first. Also assume that the principle of superposition holds.

a. Devonian/Silurian

b. Tertiary/Cretaceous

c. Ordovician/Silurian

d. Jurassic/Permian

13. The Archean is an example of the geological division of time called which of the following?

a. an eon

b. an era

c. a period

d. an epoch

14. How many millions of years was the duration of the Paleozoic?

a. 40

b. 297

c. 11.1

d. 545

15. Which was the longest interval of time?

a. Cenozoic

b. Jurassic

c. Phanerozoic

d. Miocene

Answers

1. c. stratigraphers

2. b. index fossil

3. a. nonconformity

4. c. Beds are parts of formations; both are types of strata.

5. b. 300 million years

6. a. an unstable nucleus

7. c. nitrogen

8. a. 3

9. d. igneous rocks, because there was no argon when the rock was formed

10. b. meteorites

11. b. Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic

12. d. Jurassic/Permian

13. a. an eon

14. b. 297

15. c. Phanerozoic

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