Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.

relative age dating geology-77

Nicolas Steno, William Smith, Georges Cuvier, Alexandre Brongniart, and James Hutton developed the basic rules for the science of stratigraphy.

Relative dating uses the principles or laws of stratigraphy to order sequences of rock strata.

Geologists draw on it and other basic principles ( to determine the relative ages of rocks or features such as faults.

Relative age dating also means paying attention to crosscutting relationships.

Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type.

Stratigraphy is a branch of geology that studies rock strata with an emphasis on distribution, deposition, age and evidence of past life.

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

However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.

Relative dating attempts to determine the relative order of past events, without necessarily determining their absolute age.

Before radiometric dating, which provided a means of absolute dating, archaeologists and geologists were for the most part limited to the use of relative dating techniques to determine the geological events.

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.