Which of these does a better job of describing my age? So, in both geology and paleontology, we want to be able to point to an object and say exactly how old it is.
To do that, we have to learn a little bit about radioactive decay.
Scientists piece together a story of how one event came before or after another.
Relative dating cannot tell us the actual age of a rock; it can only tell us whether one rock is older or younger than another.
Scientists know that the layers they see in sedimentary rock were built up in a certain order, from bottom to top.
Stratigraphic and fossil succession are good tools for studying the relative dates of events in Earth's history, but they do not help with numerical dating.
The most common form of relative dating is called stratigraphic succession.
This is just a fancy term for the way rock layers are built up and changed by geologic processes.
One of the biggest jobs of a geologist is establishing the absolute age, in years, of a rock or fossil.
Unlike relative dating, which only tells us the age of rock A compared to rock B, numerical dating tells us the age of rock A in x number of years.