This question is a result of recent news that Earth had a "boring billion" years in which mountains ceased to grow, and subsequently hindered life evolution.
The article went on to give extraordinary details the scientists have provided. They know that the Earth's mountains were not growing anymore, the crust was then thinning, and the ocean life couldn't get nutrients to help evolution.
There was also a recent animation of Earth's tectonic plates over their lifetime and how the continents shaped into what they are now.
How did they know all that stuff? How did they know the tectonic plate moved from here to here a few billion years ago? Or how mountains no longer grow, or, or, or...
I understand the concept of carbon-dating, and that's about it. Are there are any other crazy methods that enable them to make these mind-blowing measurements?
I don't mind a detailed, jargon-filled explanation, but hopefully it can still make sense to someone generally interested in Science like myself.