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Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.

Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.

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Suppose you find a fossil at one place that cannot be dated using absolute methods.That fossil species may have been dated somewhere else, so you can match them and say that your fossil has a similar age.Some fossils, called index fossils, are particularly useful in correlating rocks.For a fossil to be a good index fossil, it needs to have lived during one specific time period, be easy to identify and have been abundant and found in many places. If you find ammonites in a rock in the South Island and also in a rock in the North Island, you can say that both rocks are Mesozoic.Using this process geologists are able to assign actual ages with known degrees of error to specific geologic events.

By combining knowledge gained using both relative and absolute dating processes geologists have been able to produce the geologic time scale.Scientists date igneous rock using elements that are slow to decay, such as uranium and potassium.By dating these surrounding layers, they can figure out the youngest and oldest that the fossil might be; this is known as "bracketing" the age of the sedimentary layer in which the fossils occur.Relative dating is used to arrange geological events, and the rocks they leave behind, in a sequence.The method of reading the order is called stratigraphy (layers of rock are called strata).The most obvious feature of sedimentary rock is its layering.