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Geologists have studied the order in which fossils appeared and disappeared through time and rocks. Fossils can help to match rocks of the same age, even when you find those rocks a long way apart.
This matching process is called correlation, which has been an important process in constructing geological timescales.
Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.
Bring relative dating principles to life with the activity Rock layers and relative dating.
(The near-vertical stripes are blasting drill holes.
The image is about 7 m across.) [SE photo] An unconformity represents an interruption in the process of deposition of sedimentary rocks.
The lower sandstone layer is disrupted by two faults, so we can infer that the faults are younger than that layer.
But the faults do not appear to continue into the coal seam, and they certainly do not continue into the upper sandstone.
Recognizing unconformities is important for understanding time relationships in sedimentary sequences.