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Often when geologists examine rock outcrops like the one illustrated above they are interested in not only the types of rocks present, but the order in which they formed.

When they put events in chronological order like they use Relative Dating.

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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.

This feature is produced by changes in deposition over time.

We do this all the time in our regular day to day lives.

For example, lets put the following movies in order of relative age from oldest to youngest: Twilight, Finding Nemo, the Avengers, the Hunger Games.

With this in mind geologist have long known that the deeper a sedimentary rock layer is the older it is, but how old?

Although there might be some mineral differences due to the difference in source rock, most sedimentary rock deposited year after year look very similar to one another.