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    Relative dating of the pennsylvanian period

    Stratigraphy is the study of rock layers (strata) deposited in the earth.It is one of the most challenging of geologic subdisciplines, comparable to an exacting form of detective work, yet it is also one of the most important branches of study in the geologic sciences.Hence the age of a layer of rock could be determined by its characteristic faunal content.The Geologic Time Chart was not developed in the sequential order as it is known today with the oldest interval units of time appearing at the bottom and the most recent interval units appearing at the top of the chart.Among the earliest contributions to what could be called historical geology came from the Italian scientist and artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who speculated that fossils might have come from the remains of long-dead animals.Nearly two centuries later, stratigraphy itself had its beginnings when the Danish geologist Nicolaus Steno (1638-1687) studied the age of rock strata.In the late 1790's, an English canal builder, William Smith (1769 - 1839), discovered the most important tool for relative age dating.

    Naturally, information is more readily discernible about the more recent phases, though even in studying these phases, it is possible to be misled by gaps in the rock record, known as unconformities.The two types of geologic time are analogous to the difference between "lunchtime" ("relative time") and the numerical time on a clock, like pm to pm ("absolute time")."Lunchtime" occurs after "morning" and before "suppertime", but its position in time and its duration can also be measured in hours and minutes, just like the Jurassic Period occurs after the Triassic Period, and before the Cretaceous Period, and spans the time from about 205 million years ago to about 142 million years ago.Historical geology, the study of Earth's physical history, is one of the two principal branches of geology, the other being physical geology, or the study of Earth's physical components and the forces that have shaped them.Among the principal subdisciplines of historical geology is stratigraphy, the study of rock layers, which are called strata or, in the singular form, a stratum.

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