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After the uplift of the land, the forces of erosion attacked the highlands and the eroded rock debris was transported and redeposited in the lowlands.
During the same interval of time in another part of the world, the land surface subsided and was covered by the seas.
In many cases, however, it is possible to reconstruct the original sequence of strata so that they can be used for relative dating.
William Smith's collecting and cataloging fossil shells from rocks led to the discovery that certain layers contained fossils unlike those in other layers (see: fossil sorting).Using these key or index fossils as markers, geologists began to identify a particular layer of rock wherever it was exposed.Because fossils are believed to record the slow but progressive development of life, geologist use them to identify the relative age of rocks throughout the world.Between the years of 17, James Hutton and William Smith advanced the concept of relative dating.Hutton, a Scottish geologist, first proposed formally the fundamental principle used to classify rocks according to their relative ages.