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The simplest situation for a geologist is a "layer cake" succession of sedimentary or extrusive igneous rock units arranged in nearly horizontal layers.

In such a situation, the "principle of superposition" is easily applied, and the strata towards the bottom are older, those towards the top are younger.

As an example of how they are used, radiometric dates from geologically simple, fossiliferous Cretaceous rocks in western North America are compared to the geological time scale.

To get to that point, there is also a historical discussion and description of non-radiometric dating methods.

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).

A common form of criticism is to cite geologically complicated situations where the application of radiometric dating is very challenging.

There are situations where it potentially fails -- for example, in cave deposits.

In this situation, the cave contents are younger than both the bedrock below the cave and the suspended roof above.

Using these principles, it is possible to construct an interpretation of the sequence of events for any geological situation, even on other planets (e.g., a crater impact can cut into an older, pre-existing surface, or craters may overlap, revealing their relative ages).

It can't float in mid-air, particularly if the material involved is sand, mud, or molten rock.

The principle of superposition therefore has a clear implication for the age of a vertical succession of strata.

These are often characterised as the norm, rather than the exception.

I thought it would be useful to present an example where the geology is simple, and unsurprisingly, the method does work well, to show the quality of data that would have to be invalidated before a major revision of the geologic time scale could be accepted by conventional scientists.

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