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In the early 1800s, soon after James Hutton died, William Smith in England made the scientific case for what came to be called the principle of faunal succession.The key to this principle is that during a specific geologic time, only certain types of organisms existed, so if fossils of those organisms are found in a layer of rock, the rock is of that geologic age, the age when those organisms were species that lived on earth.

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He had a large influence on the development and spread of the practice of geology as a science, partly through his textbook, that Charles Darwin read had a major influence in his thinking as he traveled around the world collecting samples, and Darwin consulted with Lyell at key stages during the time he developed and published his theory of evolution of species by natural selection.Relative geologic age is established, based on such evidence as the order in which layers of sediment are stacked, with the younger layer originally on top.By using the principles of relative geologic age, the sequence of geologic events -- what happened first, what happened next, what happened last -- can be established.A few centimeters a year, about the rate your fingernails grow, may not seem like much but, as millions of years of geologic time unfold, it adds up to thousands of kilometers .Fast or slow, abrupt or taking millions of years, uniformitarianism includes natural processes of all different rates, from abrupt and cataclysmic to barely detectable and very slow.

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