Just as Sherlock Holmes used his power of observation to decipher the clues to a suspect's past actions, we will let the blemishes and behaviors of the rocks tell us their past story. ) Remember that relative dating involves determining "which came first" rather than "exactly when did this happen." The first step to untangling the geologic history of an area is often to figure out what happened first, second and third, etc.without knowing the absolute ages at which the rocks themselves formed.
Hutton viewed tilted strata as having been initially deposited horizontally, and then were subsequently deformed (tilted and folded) by the forces of Earth's internal heat engine.
Different methods have their own limitations, especially with regard to the age range they can measure and the substances they can date.
A common problem with any dating method is that a sample may be contaminated with older or younger material and give a false age.
The secondary rocks were thought to include interlayered basalts, which Werner thought formed by combustion of buried coal layers.
The Scottish geologist James Hutton (1726-1797) argued that granite and basalt by solidification within the earth (as opposed to precipitating in from oceanwater).