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Relative age dating and cross cutting relationships

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We know that we can relatively date layers of rock by knowing that the layers on bottom are older than the layers on top.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.The highest layers tell them what happened more recently, and the lowest layers tell them what happened longer ago.

Geologists use this type of method all the time to establish relative ages of rocks.

Now imagine that you come upon a formation like this: What do you think of it? How can you make any conclusions about rock layers that make such a crazy arrangement?

Geologists establish the age of rocks in two ways: numerical dating and relative dating.

Highland County igneous rock intrudes sedimentary rock (Photograph by Stan Johnson) This light-colored Highland County igneous intrusion cuts through the darker sedimentary rock.

So, let's imagine for a second that you have a 3-layered cake. So, by definition, the oldest layer of cake would be chocolate, as it was put there first. Now all of a sudden the big tower of cookies running through the middle of your cake is the youngest feature, as the other three layers in order for it to be there.