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Use superposition to determine which is older: the road or the lava flow? states that a rock unit (or other geological feature, such as a fault) that is cut by another rock unit (or feature) must be older than the rock unit (or feature) that does the cutting.

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Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events (i.e., the age of an object in comparison to another), without necessarily determining their absolute age (i.e. In geology, rock or superficial deposits, fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another.An imaginary cross-section, showing a series of rock layers and geological events (A-I). The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah is a great example of Original Horizontality and the Law of Superposition, two important ideas used in relative dating.The image below shows a sequence of Devonian-aged (~380 Ma) rocks exposed at the magnificent waterfall at Taughannock Falls State Park in central New York.

The rocks near the bottom of the waterfall were deposited first and the rocks above are subsequently younger and younger. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

The regular order of the occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith.