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Try it risk-free Discover how geologists study the layers in sedimentary rock to establish relative age.

It sounds like common sense to you and me, but geologists have to define the Principle of Original Horizontality in order to make assumptions about the relative ages of sedimentary rocks. Say you have a layer of mud accumulating at the bottom of a lake. More sediment accumulates from the leaf litter and waste of the forest, until you have a second layer.

Once we assume that all rock layers were originally horizontal, we can make another assumption: that the oldest rock layers are furthest toward the bottom, and the youngest rock layers are closest to the top. The forest layer is younger than the mud layer, right? When scientists look at sedimentary rock strata, they essentially see a timeline stretching backwards through history.

This evaluation of the rocks and fossils in relative dating is known as the biostratigraphy.

Other than rocks, fossils are the other most important elements in relative dating as many organisms have there remain in the sedimentary rocks.

Imagine that you're a geologist, studying the amazing rock formations of the Grand Canyon.

Your goal is to study the smooth, parallel layers of rock to learn how the land built up over geologic time.

In other words, we can say that in relative dating the archaeologist determines that which of the two fossil or the artifacts are older.

Contrary to this, absolute dating is the technique, using which the exact age of the artifacts, fossils, or sites are ascertained.

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