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The time scale links measures of time (on the scale of periods ranging from thousands, millions, to billions of years) to established names for those time periods used in publications (reports and maps).The geologic time scale has been continuous refined as new data is collected.The logical place to start discussion is to examine the material below our feet.Perhaps most fundamental to understanding the geologic origin of landscapes and earth materials is the vastness of geologic time.It took centuries for the scientific community to compile information about the age of different regions in the planet through the study of rocks, the fossils they contain, and the chronology of events in Earth's history (such as the formation of mountain ranges, changes in coastlines, and the evolution of life).One of the products of this collective investigation over time is the geologic time scale (Figure 3-2).Geologists attempt to unravel geologic history by studying the geometry of outcrops in an area.Subtle characteristics of undisturbed landscapes often reveal the location of faults, ore deposits, sources of groundwater, and many other features of geologic interest.
In some places the bedrock is exposed as rocky outcrops scattered across the landscape, particularly in mountainous areas or along stream canyons.Geologic maps are essential components to resolving the geologic story (and history) of a region, and serve many useful purposes for society including uses in urban planning, agriculture, health and public safety, mineral resource management, water resources, and much more.The surface of the Earth is shaped by processes moving materials underground and by processes occurring on the surface under the influence of atmospheric, hydrologic, and oceanographic processes.Igneous rocks includes intrusive rocks (rocks that cooled below the surface) and volcanic rocks formed on the Earth's surface by volcanism.Igneous rocks also form from melting associated with extraterrestrial impacts.
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Examples of igneous rocks include granite, gabbro, and basalt.