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The simplest situation for a geologist is a "layer cake" succession of sedimentary or extrusive igneous rock units arranged in nearly horizontal layers.
In such a situation, the "principle of superposition" is easily applied, and the strata towards the bottom are older, those towards the top are younger.
Cave deposits also often have distinctive structures of their own (e.g., spelothems like stalactites and stalagmites), so it is not likely that someone could mistake them for a successional sequence of rock units. Each of them is a testable hypothesis about the relationships between rock units and their characteristics.
his document discusses the way radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are used to establish the conventional geological time scale.
It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their , and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already (refer to "Other Sources" for more information).
They are the "initial working hypotheses" to be tested further by data.
Using these principles, it is possible to construct an interpretation of the sequence of events for any geological situation, even on other planets (e.g., a crater impact can cut into an older, pre-existing surface, or craters may overlap, revealing their relative ages).
This orientation is not an assumption, because in virtually all situations, it is also possible to determine the original "way up" in the stratigraphic succession from "way up indicators".