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To determine the relative age of different rocks, geologists start with the assumption that unless something has happened, in a sequence of sedimentary rock layers, the newer rock layers will be on top of older ones. This rule is common sense, but it serves as a powerful reference point.Geologists draw on it and other basic principles ( to determine the relative ages of rocks or features such as faults.The most obvious feature of sedimentary rock is its layering.This feature is produced by changes in deposition over time.

Yet, you’ve heard the news: Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1,000 years old. Geologic age dating—assigning an age to materials—is an entire discipline of its own.

With out individual time stamps the process of dating these structures could become extremely difficult.

To deal with many of these problems geologists utilize two types of geologic time: relative time and absolute time.

Relative time places events or formations in order based on their position within the rock record relative to one another using six principles of relative dating.

Relative time can not determine the actual year a material was deposited or how long deposition lasted; it simply tell us which events came first.

A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.

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