One of the biggest jobs of a geologist is establishing the absolute age, in years, of a rock or fossil.
Unlike relative dating, which only tells us the age of rock A compared to rock B, numerical dating tells us the age of rock A in x number of years.
The most common form of relative dating is called stratigraphic succession.
Which of these does a better job of describing my age? So, in both geology and paleontology, we want to be able to point to an object and say exactly how old it is.
To do that, we have to learn a little bit about radioactive decay.
If I told you that I was 30 years old, that number would be my numerical age.
If I told you I was 32 years younger than my mother, that number would be my relative age.
Scientists piece together a story of how one event came before or after another.