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This is the principle of original horizontality: layers of strata are deposited horizontally or nearly horizontally (Figure 2).

Thus, any deformations of strata (Figures 2 and 3) must have occurred after the rock was deposited.

Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.

Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free.

Geologists have established a set of principles that can be applied to sedimentary and volcanic rocks that are exposed at the Earth's surface to determine the relative ages of geological events preserved in the rock record.

For example, in the rocks exposed in the walls of the Grand Canyon (Figure 1) there are many horizontal layers, which are called strata.

By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.Third, magnetism in rocks can be used to estimate the age of a fossil site.This method uses the orientation of the Earth's magnetic field, which has changed through time, to determine ages for fossils and rocks.The principle of superposition states that in an undeformed sequence of sedimentary rocks, each layer of rock is older than the one above it and younger than the one below it (Figures 1 and 2).Accordingly, the oldest rocks in a sequence are at the bottom and the youngest rocks are at the top.

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