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These ages have been derived from relative dating and absolute dating (radiometric dating) of rock layers and fossils.(a) Relative Dating This technique uses principles of stratigraphy (rock strata) and the study of fossils (palaeontology) to determine the relative ages of rocks and sediments. Field geologists' rely on a number of simple techniques for dating rocks and constructing geological successions. The Law of Strata Identified by Fossils is a little bit more complex.

The two approaches are often complementary, as when a sequence of occurrences in one context can be correlated with an absolute chronlogy elsewhere.

Using the known rate of change in radio-active elements (radiometric dating), some Earth rocks have been shown to be billions of years old, while the oldest solar system rocks are dated at 4.6 billion years.

Astronomers use the distance to galaxies and the speed of light to calculate that the light has been traveling for billions of years.

For example, the presence of recycled bricks at an archaeological site indicates the sequence in which the structures were built.

Similarly, in geology, if distinctive granitic pebbles can be found in the sediment beside a similar granitic body, it can be inferred that the granite, after cooling, had been uplifted and eroded and therefore was not injected into the adjacent rock sequence.