The Student’s Elements of Geology

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Author: Charles Lyell

Superposition.

The first and principal test of the age of one aqueous deposit, as compared to another, is relative position. It has been already stated, that, where strata are horizontal, the bed which lies uppermost is the newest of the whole, and that which lies at the bottom the most ancient. So, of a series of sedimentary formations, they are like volumes of history, in which each writer has recorded the annals of his own times, and then laid down the book, with the last written page uppermost, upon the volume in which the events of the era immediately preceding were commemorated. In this manner a lofty pile of chronicles is at length accumulated; and they are so arranged as to indicate, by their position alone, the order in which the events recorded in them have occurred.

In regard to the crust of the earth, however, there are some regions where, as the student has already been informed, the beds have been disturbed, and sometimes extensively thrown over and turned upside down. (See Chapter 5.) But an experienced geologist can rarely be deceived by these exceptional cases. When he finds that the strata are fractured, curved, inclined, or vertical, he knows that the original order of superposition must be doubtful, and he then endeavours to find sections in some neighbouring district where the strata are horizontal, or only slightly inclined. Here, the true order of sequence of the entire series of deposits being ascertained, a key is furnished for settling the chronology of those strata where the displacement is extreme.

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Chicago: Charles Lyell, "Superposition.," The Student’s Elements of Geology, ed. Bryant Conant, James and trans. Babington, B. G. (Benjamin Guy), 1794-1866 in The Student’s Elements of Geology Original Sources, accessed July 17, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=16ES4YISJVT374J.

MLA: Lyell, Charles. "Superposition." The Student’s Elements of Geology, edited by Bryant Conant, James, and translated by Babington, B. G. (Benjamin Guy), 1794-1866, in The Student’s Elements of Geology, Original Sources. 17 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=16ES4YISJVT374J.

Harvard: Lyell, C, 'Superposition.' in The Student’s Elements of Geology, ed. and trans. . cited in , The Student’s Elements of Geology. Original Sources, retrieved 17 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=16ES4YISJVT374J.