Earth Science

Studying Earth Science

Principle of Uniformitarianism

Study Tip
Things that may have similar features or look like they “wear” the same “uniform” may be connected through the principle of uniformity. For example the lines on sandstone and sand dunes show that the two are connected.

Uniformitarianism

Even if we know what type of rock a certain rock is, we aren’t able to identify how the rock formed. Using the principle of uniformitarianism, we will be able to see how the rock is formed. This principle states that if we can understand how a process happens now and we find evidence of the same process happening in the past then we can assume the process happened the same way in the past.

Study Tip
Things that may have similar features or look like they “wear” the same “uniform” may be connected through the principle of uniformity. For example the lines on sandstone and sand dunes show that the two are connected.
Igneous rocks
Igneous rocks such as these are formed
the same way as rocks of the past
Sandstone
Sandstone, formed similarly to sand dunes

Sandstone Rocks

An example of the principle of uniformitarianism is using how sand dunes form in order to determine how sandstone rock formed. We can decipher how many other rocks form by using the same technique.

Concept Check
  • Be able to use the principle of uniformitarianism to determine how certain types of rocks are formed.