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Historical geologists are scientists who study the Earth's past.

It means that we can use present-day processes to interpret the past. The laws of nature say that sea animals must live in the sea.

That law has never changed, so the rock must have formed near the sea.

Clues like this have helped scientists learn that Earth's surface features have changed many times.

Spots that were once covered by warm seas may now be cool and dry.

And fossils and archaeological objects which come from a deeper stratigraphical layer are supposed to be older.

Likewise, fossils and archaeological objects which come from a more superficial stratigraphical layer are supposed to be younger.

We often express time in hours or days, and 10 or 20 years certainly feels like a long time.

Imagine if you needed to think about one million, 100 million, or even several billion years. Have places like the Grand Canyon and the Mississippi River been around for all of those years, or were they formed more recently?

Relative dating is a method of dating fossils or archaeological objects according to the stratigraphical layer in which they are found.

To tell it simply, fossils and archaeological objects are supposed to have the same age as the sediment in which they are embedded.

Before you work through this lesson, think about the following questions. This means that the laws describing how things work are the same today as they were billions of years ago. This law has always been true and always will be true.

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