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A stoney and/or metallic object from our solar system which was never incorporated into a planet and has fallen onto Earth.Meteorite is used for the rock on Earth, meteoroid for the object in space, and meteor as the object travels in Earth's atmosphere.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.The theory that the outer layer of the Earth (the lithosphere) is broken in several plates, and these plates move relative to one another, causing the major topographic features of Earth (e.g.mountains, oceans) and most earthquakes and volcanoes.This means that a quartz sandstone deposited 500 million years ago will look very similar to a quartz sandstone deposited 50 years ago.

Working out Earth’s history depended on realizing some key principles of relative time.Nicolaus Steno (1638-1686) introduced basic principles of becoming known as “the Father of English Geology.” Nineteenth-century scientists developed a relative time scale using Steno’s principles, with names derived from the characteristics of the rocks in those areas.The figure of this geologic time scale shows the names of the units and subunits.Unlike relative time, absolute time assigns specific ages to events or formations and is typically recorded in years before present.This process requires much more sophisticated chemical analysis and, although other processes have been developed, often utilizes the decay rates of radioactive isotopes to determine the age of a given material.

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