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You may have already completed introductory laboratory studies of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.If so, you have already practiced interpreting details of earth's history from the evidence contained in rocks.The idea of uniformitarianism is that the laws and principles that nature follows in today's world, such as gravity, also applied in the geologic past; in other words, "the present is the key to the past." The idea of uniformitarianisms is commonly misinterpreted in two different ways.

Some are abrupt, such as an explosive volcanic eruption, an earthquake, or a landslide.

Steno made careful geologic observations and illustrations.

He published the results of his work and established a basic set of principles for interpreting sedimentary strata.

In the two centuries after Steno developed the first set of principles for determining relative geologic age, other geologists contributed major ideas that have allowed scientists to grapple with, measure, and come to terms with geologic time.

James Hutton of Scotland, the same man who developed the modern concept of the rock cycle as a reflection of the endlessly dynamic and constantly changing earth, advanced the theory of unconformities.