Age and Times of Mars vs Earth

Initial Publication Date: May 30, 2013


This learning module discusses the geologic history of the Earth, the principles scientists use to define the Earth's geologic history, and relative dating techniques.

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Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • Use principles of relative dating to interpret block diagrams, Earth outcrops, and Mars imagery
  • Compare the geologic history of Earth and Mars

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Context for Use

Make sure students have a basic understanding of lithologies in addition to the method of crater counting for dating and interpreting the ages of Martian terrain.

Description and Teaching Materials

Compiled In-Class Activities and Homework

In-Class Activity


Teaching Notes and Tips

  1. Expose students to Crater Counting such that students realize the geologic timescale of Mars and dating of the Mars surface is based upon crater counting.
  2. For Homework 1 make sure students have a basic knowledge of lithology in order to interpret unconformities.
  3. Depending on class size, if possible, make copies of the geologic maps for students to use during In-Class Activity 1. If class sizes are larger than 30, include these maps in a course packet. Overhead projection of the maps may not be sufficient to engage fully in the activity.
  4. Homework 1 can be adapted for an in-class activity as desired.



Methods of assessment are within each individual In-Class Activity and Homework.

References and Resources

  1. Image File: Lesson 11: Instructor Version (pptx) (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 389kB May28 13)
  2. YouTube video of the Noachian period on Mars (artist interpretation):
  3. Simplified geologic map of the state of Utah:
  4. Geologic map of Mars: