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The first method that scientists use to determine the age of rocks is relative dating.
In this method, scientists compare different layers of rock to determine an ordered sequence of events in geologic history.
Again, this doesn't tell them exactly how old the layers are, but it does give them an idea of the ordered sequence of events that occurred over the history of that geologic formation.
Sort of an offshoot of stratigraphic succession is fossil succession, or a method in which scientists compare fossils in different rock strata to determine the relative ages of each.
The most common form of relative dating is called stratigraphic succession.
If I told you I was 32 years younger than my mother, that number would be my relative age.
Free 5-day trial Learn how scientists determine the ages of rocks and fossils.
We'll explore both relative and numerical dating on our quest to understand the process of geological dating.
Let's say that Paul the Paleontologist found an iguanodon fossil in the light green layer shown above.
And, he also found a coelophysis fossil in the yellow layer. Of course, the coelophysis, which means that coelophysis came before iguanodon.