Throughout its existence the orientation of the Earth’s magnet field has changed. Iron particles in lava, clay, or sediment will orientate itself toward the magnet field of the Earth. By looking at the way these particles are oriented and comparing that to records compiled from other locations where dating has been confirmed through other methods, the date of the igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rock formation can be ascertained.
There is usually a distinct pattern of stripes at the edges of mid-Atlantic trenches, the magnetic direction flipping and locking in a new “stripe” as the magma flows out of these trenches and cools.
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