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This picture shows three beds containing numerous intraclastic flat pebbles from upper Cambrian strata of the Notch Peak Formation, Utah. We find analogous flat-pebble conglomerates in lower Paleozoic strata from many different regions of the world, including China, North America, Australia, and Korea. In this and other similar cases, Paleozoic rocks record a global signal. Scale in cm.
Principle of inclusion
One of the basic principles of stratigraphy is the "principle of inclusion." The principle states that if fragments of a rock unit are found included in a second rock unit, the second unit is younger than the first. In this picture, fragments of the Mesoproterozoic Pikes Peak granite (like the clast on which the pencil is resting) are included in a conglomerate layer of the Pennsylvanian Fountain Formation, CO. We infer that the granite must have existed as a solid rock body that was broken and eroded before and during the deposition of the conglomerate layer. Therefore, this principle helps establishing a relative sequence of events. The principle was already understood by Nicolas Steno, the father of stratigraphy. In his "Prodromus," published in 1669, he writes: "these same bodies had already become hard at the time when the matter of the earth and rock containing them was still fluid. And not only did the earth and rock not produce the bodies contained in them, but they did not even exist as such when those bodies were produced in them” (pp. 15-16).