Fossils and relative dating
The most obvious feature of sedimentary rock is its layering.
To deal with many of these problems geologists utilize two types of geologic time: relative time and absolute time.
This process lead to a system of time containing eons, eras, periods, and epochs all determined by their position in the rock record.
For example, rocks of the Phanerozoic eon are found on top of rocks from the Proterozoic eons therefore rocks of the Phanerozoic are younger than rocks of the Proterozoic.
Relative time places events or formations in order based on their position within the rock record relative to one another using six principles of relative dating.
Relative time can not determine the actual year a material was deposited or how long deposition lasted; it simply tell us which events came first.