Applying the principles of relative dating to these rock exposures (also called "outcrops"), we can reconstruct the sequence of events that created the geologic features which we see.Events can be the deposition of a sedimentary layer, the eruption of a lava flow, the intrusion of magma to form a batholith, a fault (break) in the rock that shifts one side relative to the other side (and causes an earthquake), a fold that bends and distorts rock layers, or any number of other geologic processes.Cliffs, road cuts, and non-vegetated landscapes allow us glimpses into geology which is often hidden from view.Cliffs and road cuts are "side views" or "geologic cross-sections" of the topography which show the relative positions of various rock layers and structures at a given spot.The laws of stratigraphy are usually credited to a geologist from Denmark named Nicolas Steno. Superposition refers to the position of rock layers and their relative ages.Relative age means age in comparison with other rocks, either younger or older.Therefore, deeper layers must be older than layers closer to the surface. You can see an example in Figure below and at the link below.[Link about law of superposition here.] Rock layers extend laterally, or out to the sides.They may cover very broad areas, especially if they formed at the bottom of ancient seas.
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The relative ages of rocks are important for understanding Earth’s history.
New rock layers are always deposited on top of existing rock layers.
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These are often characterised as the norm, rather than the exception.