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Dating the Past

Dating the Past

Measuring the age of rocks and fossils

Learn how geologists find out the ages of rocks and fossils to help explain how New Zealand’s structure – and the life it supports – has changed over millions of years.

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Finding your way around

There are several different ways to discover the site's resources and their related content, along with ideas for grouping them for teaching opportunities:

  • The collections contain groups of related resources about Dating the Past.
  • The Connections tool is a visual interactive pathway to discovering the resources and related content for Dating the Past.
  • The printable context overview will assist teachers to find pathways through this context and to plan lessons and units of work.

Collections | Connections | Context overview (PDF 56 kB)


    Relative dating

    Relative dating places events in sequence, without providing numerical dates. The matching of fossils, called correlation, plays an important part in dating rocks.

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    Date a dinosaur

    Paleontologists like Dr James Crampton from GNS Science have been determining dates for fossils found in north-west Hawke’s Bay using correlation, including matching microscopic fossils with those...

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    Ice ages unearthed

    Cores from a peat bog contain evidence of climate change during the last two ice ages. Dr Marcus Vandergoes of GNS Science has dated events recorded in the cores using radiocarbon and optically...

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    The rock cycle

    The rock cycle is a network of processes that make and change rocks. The three main rock types (igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic) can be changed into any of the others.

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Cretaceous creatures

Dr James Crampton takes you inside the National Paleontology Collection to see some of...


NZ Research

NZ Research collection.
NZ Research collection. This collection provides information about the work of New Zealand’s world-class science and technology sectors in relation to Dating the...

Science Ideas and Concepts

Science Ideas and Concepts collection.
Science Ideas and Concepts collection. Scientific study requires a basic knowledge and understanding of ideas and concepts. This collection explains the ideas that are...

Looking Closer

Looking Closer collection.
Looking Closer collection.
This collection contains a wide variety of resources and information about Dating the Past, which supports the resources in the other...


People collection.
People collection. This collection introduces some of the people working or studying in the areas explored in Dating the Past. Click on a name to find out...

Teaching and Learning Approaches

Teaching and Learning Approaches collection.
Teaching and Learning Approaches collection. Student activities are the main feature of this collection, along with a variety of resources for teachers to use in exploring Dating the...


Timeline collection.
Timeline collection. An interactive look at some of the historical aspects of finding out the age of the Earth.

Question Bank

Question Bank collection.
Question Bank collection. An inquiry approach is a method often used in science education. The question bank provides an initial list of questions about Dating the...

Key Terms

Key Terms collection.
Key Terms collection. This resource provides explanations of the key concepts encountered when exploring Dating the Past – the ‘basics’ that every student...

Sci Media

Sci Media collection.
Sci Media collection. This collection is where you can find all the images and video clips that relate to Dating the Past 

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