Some Sample Questions –canned from another source…


1)  Which technique is most useful in numerical dating of rock bodies?

A) cross-cutting relations

B) radiometric dating

C) inclusions

D) fossils

E) superposition


2)  Unconformities

A) are a measure of absolute time.

B) form when sediment is deposited on an eroded folded mountain belt.

C) form when layer upon layer of sediment accumulate in a shallow sea.

D) form when igneous intrusions cut into sequences of layered sediments.

E) form where around irregular zones of contact metamorphism.


3)  In which of the following situations would carbon-14 dating be used?

A) igneous intrusion about 1-2 billion years old

B) basalts less than 1 million years old

C) sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic age

D) metamorphic rocks less than 1 thousand years old

E) a log buried in young glacial sediment a few thousand years old


4)  The half-life of a radioactive element is

A) the amount of radioactive material left after a given period of time.

B) the amount of radioactive material left after 1 million years.

C) the amount of 14C left after half of the uranium has decayed.

D) the time required for half of the nuclei of a radioactive element to decay.

E) the time required for half of a sample to become radioactive.


5)  Which sequence shows the names of eras from oldest to youngest?

A) Precambrian-Mesozoic-Cenozoic-Paleozoic

B) Paleozoic-Mesozoic-Precambrian-Cenozoic

C) Precambrian-Cenozoic-Mesozoic-Paleozoic

D) Cenozoic-Mesozoic-Paleozoic-Precambrian

E) Precambrian-Paleozoic-Mesozoic-Cenozoic   


6)  Relative dating is determining the

A) length of time since a rock formed.

B) time span between geologic events.

C) approximate age of a rock.

D) age of a rock in terms of numbers of years.

E) chronological order of a sequence of events.


7)  The law of superposition does NOT apply when rocks are

A) overturned.

B) slightly tilted.

C) sedimentary.

D) fossiliferous.

E) cut by high-angle normal faults.


8)  The principle which explains that in a sequence of undeformed sedimentary rock, the oldest bed is on the bottom and each higher bed is successively younger, is called the principle of

A) crosscutting relations.

B) superposition.

C) relative dating.

D) faunal succession.

E) inclusion.


9)  Which of the following principles is NOT used to determine relative ages of rocks?

A) cross-cutting relations

B) faunal succession

C) superposition

D) original horizontality

E) none of the above


10)  Determining the relative age of a rock body in the field is based largely on

A) fossil identification.

B) carbon-14 (14C).

C) half-life measurements.

D) radioactive dates.

E) superposition.


11)  Which of the following sequences of geologic periods is NOT correct?

A) Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic

B) Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary, Quaternary

C) Pennsylvanian, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous

D) Cambrian, Ordovician, Devonian, Silurian, Mississippian

E) Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic  


12)  The geologic time scale is divided into four main units called eras. The most recent era is the

A) Precambrian.

B) Mesozoic.

C) Cenozoic.

D) Paleozoic.

E) Quaternary.


13)  A sample of basalt contains a radioactive isotope that has a half-life of 10 million years. Analysis shows that one quarter of the original parent isotope has NOT decayed. How old is the rock?

A) 2.5 million years

B) 20 million years

C) 40 million years

D) 5 million years

E) 10 million years


14)  The age of Earth, as measured by radiometric methods, is approximately

A) 4.6 billion years.

B) 80,000 years.

C) 1.8 million years.

D) 500,000 years.

E) 6,000 years.


15)  The rate at which a radioactive element decays is

A) influenced by pressure.

B) influenced by temperature.

C) influenced the mineral where decay is taking place.

D) constant with analytical error.

E) independent of external conditions.


16)  Carbon 14 (14C) has a half life of 5,730 years. Charcoal removed from beneath a lava flow has 1/8 the amount of 14C as a living tree. The lava flow is probably

A) 716 years old.

B) 2,865 years old.

C) 5, 730 years old.

D) 17, 190 years old.

E) 45,840 years old.


17)  The structure of these sedimentary layers suggests



A) that the rocks in the upper part of the hillside are older than those lower on the hill.

B) deposition of horizontal sediments continued layer upon layer.

C) that a steep normal fault separates two sequences of rocks.

D) an unconformity separates two sequences of rocks.


18)  The illustration shows the steps in the creation of an angular unconformity. The correct order for the drawings is



A) A, C, B, D.

B) B, D, A, C.

C) D, B, A, C.

D) A, D, B, C.


19)  In this cross section, which unit is oldest?



A) The layer of shale labeled A

B) The erosional unconformity labeled B

C) The sedimentary unit labeled C

D) The igneous rock labeled D


20)  In this photo of the Grand Canyon, the rock layers are the result of



A) repeated deposition of sedimentary rocks.

B) the intrusion of igneous rocks.

C) metamorphism in the roots of a mountain belt.

D) sedimentary deposition, tilting, erosion, and renewed deposition.


21)  Dip and strike measurements are used to describe the orientation of

A) bedding planes.

B) joints.

C) faults.

D) planar surfaces in metamorphic rocks.

E) all of the above



22)  The plunge of a fold is defined as

A) the compass direction of a horizontal line drawn on a bedding plane.

B) the maximum inclination of a bedding plane.

C) the downward inclination of the fold hinge.

D) the strike and dip of the hinge plane.

E) the area where the fold disappears beneath the surface.


23)  Folds are commonly associated with

A) strike-slip faults.

B) bedding plane faults.

C) thrust faults.

D) normal faults.

E) complex faults.


24)  Lateral offset in drainage lines is commonly associated with

A) active normal faults.

B) active reverse faults.

C) active thrust faults.

D) active strike-slip faults.


25)  Joints are important because they

A) increase the permeability of the rock.

B) provide avenues for the migration of groundwater and petroleum.

C) provide sites for the emplacement of ores.

D) affect mining and engineering operations.

E) all of the above


26)  Strike is measured

A) perpendicular to a level surface.

B) as the orientation of a horizontal line on a bedding plane.

C) parallel with dip.

D) in an east-west direction.

E) none of the above


27)  The outcrop pattern of a series of eroded plunging folds is a

A) series of symmetrical bands.

B) series of straight, parallel bands.

C) zigzag pattern.

D) dendritic pattern.

E) trellis pattern.


28)  A fault in which the hanging wall has moved downward with respect to the footwall is a

A) normal fault.

B) strike-slip fault.

C) bedding plane fault.

D) thrust fault.

E) reverse fault.


29)  Normal faults are those in which the footwall

A) moves in an oblique direction.

B) moves up relative to the hanging wall.

C) moves in a horizontal direction.

D) moves down relative to the hanging wall.

E) none of the above


30)  Displacement along faults

A) occurs only beneath the surface.

B) occurs in a single event.

C) results from plastic deformation.

D) occurs only during an earthquake.

E) results from recurrent movement over a long period of time.


31)  The formation of the Basin and Range province of the western United States is believed to be the result of

A) horizontal compression caused by plate collision.

B) tensional forces.

C) lateral motion caused by plate rotation.

D) cracking of the Earth's crust caused by tidal forces.

E) fracture system caused by igneous intrusions at a shallow level.


32)  Continental collision is commonly marked by

A) the formation of large fold belts.

B) the development of normal faults.

C) thrust sheets.

D) all of the above

E) only A and C


33)  If you encountered much older metamorphic rocks overlying younger sedimentary rocks, the plane separating them might be a

A) normal fault.

B) thrust fault.

C) a joint.

D) a normal depositional surface.


34)  Horizontal compression of continental crust most commonly results in the formation of

A) normal faults.

B) thrust faults and folds.

C) folds and normal faults.

D) strike-slip faults and normal faults.


35)  An unconformity is

A) a sedimentary unit.

B) a period of deposition.

C) a buried erosional surface.

D) a type of fold.

E) a type of fault.


36)  Reverse faults are those in which the footwall

A) moves down relative to the hanging wall.

B) moves in a horizontal direction.

C) moves in an oblique direction.

D) moves up relative to the hanging wall.

E) none of the above


37)  Horizontal compression is related to 

A) folding and crustal thickening.

B) normal faulting and crustal thickening.

C) stretching and crustal thinning.

D) folding and crustal thinning.

E) tension and thickening.


38)  Displacement along a strike-slip fault is best described as

A) the hanging wall moves downward in relation to the footwall.

B) the hanging wall moves upward in relation to the footwall.

C) horizontal displacement of rocks on either side of the fault.

D) resulting from extension.

E) all of the above