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Inclusions are always older than the sedimentary rock within which they are found.

Other times, geologists discover patterns in rock layers that give them confusing information.

In this lesson, we'll learn a few basic principles of stratigraphic succession and see whether we can find relative dates for those strange strata we found in the Grand Canyon.

In order to establish relative dates, geologists must make an initial assumption about the way rock strata are formed. sediments, which are deposited and compacted in one place over time.

Once we assume that all rock layers were originally horizontal, we can make another assumption: that the oldest rock layers are furthest toward the bottom, and the youngest rock layers are closest to the top. The forest layer is younger than the mud layer, right? When scientists look at sedimentary rock strata, they essentially see a timeline stretching backwards through history.

The highest layers tell them what happened more recently, and the lowest layers tell them what happened longer ago.

There may be a layer missing in the strata, or a set of sedimentary rock on top of metamorphic rock.

These interfaces between discontinuous layers of rock are called unconformities.

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Now, what if instead of being horizontal, this rock layer was found in a tilted position?Relative dating cannot establish absolute age, but it can establish whether one rock is older or younger than another.Relative dating requires an extensive knowledge of stratigraphic succession, a fancy term for the way rock strata are built up and changed by geologic processes.Geologists find the cross-cutting principle especially useful for establishing the relative ages of faults and igneous intrusions in sedimentary rocks.Sometimes, geologists find strange things inside the strata, like chunks of metamorphic or igneous rock.

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