Geologists still use the following principles today as a means to provide information about geologic history and the timing of geologic events.The principle of Uniformitarianism states that the geologic processes observed in operation that modify the Earth's crust at present have worked in much the same way over geologic time.
Different species of ammonites lived at different times within the Mesozoic, so identifying a fossil species can help narrow down when a rock was formed.
Correlation can involve matching an undated rock with a dated one at another location.
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From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone.
Photo from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah.
Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.
Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.
Geologists have studied the order in which fossils appeared and disappeared through time and rocks. Fossils can help to match rocks of the same age, even when you find those rocks a long way apart.