Paleontology relative dating

Layers of volcanic ash are igneous deposits, while layers of rock these deposits surround are usually sedimentary. Igneous intrusions form when magma breaks through a layer of rock from beneath, or lava flows down from above. When igneous intrusion causes newer sedimentary layers to sink into older ones, it's called subsidence.

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Igneous rocks form from eruptions of lava or magma.

Metamorphic rock is formed by great pressure far below the Earth's surface.

Geochronologists do not claim that radiometric dating is foolproof (no scientific method is), but it does work reliably for most samples.

It is these highly consistent and reliable samples, rather than the tricky ones, that have to be falsified for "young Earth" theories to have any scientific plausibility, not to mention the need to falsify huge amounts of evidence from other techniques.

Unfortunately, those methods don't work on all rocks, and they don't work at all if you don't have rocks in the laboratory to age-date. They are descriptions of how one rock or event is older or younger than another.

There's no absolute age-dating method that works from orbit, and although scientists are working on age-dating instruments small enough to fly on a lander (I'm looking at you, Barbara Cohen), nothing has launched yet. Relative age dating has given us the names we use for the major and minor geologic time periods we use to split up the history of Earth and all the other planets.When you talk about the Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic on Earth, or the Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian for Mars, these are all relative ages.Relative-age time periods are what make up the Geologic Time Scale.According to the law of superposition, as long as an area remains undeformed by outside forces, the deeper you go down through the layers of rock, the older they are.So, if you know the ages of the layers in the parent and wall rocks, you can calculate the age of the layers in your subsided area or xenolith by matching them.The example used here contrasts sharply with the way conventional scientific dating methods are characterized by some critics (for example, refer to discussion in "Common Creationist Criticisms of Mainstream Dating Methods" in the Age of the Earth FAQ and Isochron Dating FAQ).