Relative dating cratering distribution

We have no idea how much older thing B is, we just know that it's older.

That's why geologic time is usually diagramed in tall columnar diagrams like this.

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.

The more fossils you find at a location, the more you can fine-tune the relative age of this layer versus that layer.

Of course, this only works for rocks that contain abundant fossils.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research.

To show you how this calibration changes with time, here's a graphic developed from the previous version of Fossils give us this global chronostratigraphic time scale on Earth.

In fact, I have sitting in front of me on my desk a two-volume work on is not light reading, but I think that every Earth or space scientist should have a copy in his or her library -- and make that the latest edition.

In the time since the previous geologic time scale was published in 2004, most of the boundaries between Earth's various geologic ages have shifted by a million years or so, and one of them (the Carnian-Norian boundary within the late Triassic epoch) has shifted by 12 million years.

Just like a stack of sedimentary rocks, time is recorded in horizontal layers, with the oldest layer on the bottom, superposed by ever-younger layers, until you get to the most recent stuff on the tippy top.

On Earth, we have a very powerful method of relative age dating: fossil assemblages.

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