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Building from the work of Steno, Hutton, and others, the British geologist Charles Lyell (1797–1875) laid out a set of formal, usable geologic principles.
These principles continue to provide the basic framework within which geologists read the record of Earth history and determine relative ages.
Fossil Succession As Britain entered the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, new factories demanded coal to ﬁre their steam engines and needed an inexpensive means to transport goods.
Once the relative ages of a number of fossils have been determined, the fossils can be used to determine the relative age of the beds containing them.
For example, if a bed contains Fossil F (from the succession speciﬁed above), geologists can say the bed is older than a bed containing Fossil A, even if the two beds do not crop out in the same area.
If a fault cuts across and displaces layers of sedimentary rock, then the fault must be younger than the layers.
But if a layer of sediment buries a fault, the sediment must be younger than the fault.They then go further by interpreting the formation of each feature to be the consequence of a speciﬁc geologic event.