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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.
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.
For example, in sedimentary rocks, it is common for gravel from an older formation to be ripped up and included in a newer layer.
While digging the Somerset Coal Canal in southwest England, he found that fossils were always in the same order in the rock layers.
As he continued his job as a surveyor, he found the same patterns across England.
The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will be deeper in a site than more recent layers, was the summary outcome of 'relative dating' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century.
The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith.