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The Principle of Fossil Succession states that groups of fossils (called fossil assemblages) proceed one another in a regular and determinable manner.

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Relative dating utilizes six fundamental principles to determine the relative age of a formation or event.

The first principle is the Principle of Superposition which states that in an undisturbed succession of sedimentary rock, the oldest layers are on the bottom.

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

As sediment weathers and erodes from its source, and as long as it is does not encounter any physical barriers to its movement, the sediment will be deposited in all directions until it thins or fades into a different sediment type.

This concept known as the Principle of Lateral Continuity allows us to assume that similar layers of rock or sediment that are separated by a valley or other erosional feature were once continuos.

As these organisms die they are deposited on the surface along with all other sediments.

The principle of cross-cutting states that any geologic feature that crosses other layers or rock must be younger then the material it cuts across.

Using this principle any fault or igneous intrusion must be younger than all material it or layers it crosses.

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.

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