What is the definition of relative dating
We're not so sure about the next layer down, but the one below it is 100 million years old. Not exactly, but we do know that it's somewhere between 70 and 100 million years old.Geologists use this type of method all the time to establish relative ages of rocks.
Let's say we find out, through numerical dating, that the rock layer shown above is 70 million years old.We follow this same idea, with a few variations, when we talk about cross-cutting relationships in rock.Let's say, in this set of rock strata, that we found a single intrusion of igneous rock punching through the sedimentary layers.Numerical dating determines the actual ages of rocks through the study of radioactive decay.Relative dating cannot establish absolute age, but it can establish whether one rock is older or younger than another.Following the Principle of Original Horizontality, he could say that whatever forces caused the deformation, like an earthquake, must have occurred after the formation of all the rock strata.
Since we assume all the layers were originally horizontal, then anything that made them not horizontal had to have happened after the fact.
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The highest layers tell them what happened more recently, and the lowest layers tell them what happened longer ago.
How do we use the Law of Superposition to establish relative dates?
Sometimes, geologists find strange things inside the strata, like chunks of metamorphic or igneous rock.