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Some fossils, called index fossils, are particularly useful in correlating rocks.
For a fossil to be a good index fossil, it needs to have lived during one specific time period, be easy to identify and have been abundant and found in many places. If you find ammonites in a rock in the South Island and also in a rock in the North Island, you can say that both rocks are Mesozoic.
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'.
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.
The first part involves accelerating the ions to extraordinarily high kinetic energies, and the subsequent step involves mass analysis.
Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.
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).
Of all the artifacts made by Pueblo farmers in the ancient Southwest, pottery is the most sensitive for purposes of seriation dating.
The styles are distinctive and they continually changed over time.