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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.
Relative dating by biostratigraphy is the preferred method in paleontology and is, in some respects, more accurate.Faults are younger than the rocks they cut; accordingly, if a fault is found that penetrates some formations but not those on top of it, then the formations that were cut are older than the fault, and the ones that are not cut must be younger than the fault.Finding the key bed in these situations may help determine whether the fault is a normal fault or a thrust fault.A similar situation with igneous rocks occurs when xenoliths are found.
These foreign bodies are picked up as magma or lava flows, and are incorporated, later to cool in the matrix.
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.