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A fundamental principle of geology advanced by the 18th century Scottish physician and geologist James Hutton, is that "the present is the key to the past." In Hutton's words: "the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now." The principle of intrusive relationships concerns crosscutting intrusions.
In geology, when an igneous intrusion cuts across a formation of sedimentary rock, it can be determined that the igneous intrusion is younger than the sedimentary rock.
Methods for relative dating were developed when geology first emerged as a natural science in the 18th century.
The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah is a great example of Original Horizontality and the Law of Superposition, two important ideas used in relative dating.
These strata make up much of the famous prominent rock formations in widely spaced protected areas such as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
There are a number of different types of intrusions, including stocks, laccoliths, batholiths, sills and dikes.
Cross-cutting relations can be used to determine the relative ages of rock strata and other geological structures.
While digging the Somerset Coal Canal in southwest England, he found that fossils were always in the same order in the rock layers.