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In a way this field, called geochronology, is some of the purest detective work earth scientists do.
There are two basic approaches: relative age dating, and absolute age dating.
Relative age dating also means paying attention to crosscutting relationships.
Making this processes even more difficult is the fact that due to plate tectonics some rock layers have been uplifted into mountains and eroded while others have subsided to form basins and be buried by younger sediments.
With out individual time stamps the process of dating these structures could become extremely difficult.
To deal with many of these problems geologists utilize two types of geologic time: relative time and absolute time.
Proteins are composed of different combinations of amino acids assembled in chain-like molecules.
Amino acids are primarily composed of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen.
With this in mind geologist have long known that the deeper a sedimentary rock layer is the older it is, but how old?