Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Christopher Cody Matson
Uniformitarianism is among the primary doctrines in the science of geology. It states that all processes that can be seen sculpting the Earth today have operated throughout geologic time and will continue to operate in the future. This also lends itself to the idea of “gradualism,” whereby change in our world is slow and gradual because that is what we observe on Earth today. We see lakes and streams that slowly deposit centimeters of silt and mud per year, and the casual erosion by the Colorado River that has carved so deeply into the sandstones of Arizona created a scar that lays bare billions of years of depositional history. Using the principle of uniformitarianism, geologists can gain great insights into the formation of very old rock. By comparative analysis of the patterns and internal structures of old rocks and the structures of newly forming rocks in particular environments, geologists can ...