From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone.
Picture from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah.
A fundamental principle of geology advanced by the 18th century Scottish physician and geologist James Hutton, is that "the present is the key to the past." In Hutton's words: "the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now." Cross-cutting relations can be used to determine the relative ages of rock strata and other geological structures.
Explanations: A - folded rock strata cut by a thrust fault; B - large intrusion (cutting through A); C - erosional angular unconformity (cutting off A & B) on which rock strata were deposited; D - volcanic dyke (cutting through A, B & C); E - even younger rock strata (overlying C & D); F - normal fault (cutting through A, B, C & E).
The principle of intrusive relationships concerns crosscutting intrusions.
In geology, when an igneous intrusion cuts across a formation of sedimentary rock, it can be determined that the igneous intrusion is younger than the sedimentary rock.
Faults are younger than the rocks they cut; accordingly, if a fault is found that penetrates some formations but not those on top of it, then the formations that were cut are older than the fault, and the ones that are not cut must be younger than the fault.