What Did James Hutton Discover?

James Hutton, an 18th century Scottish scientist who specialized in geology later in life, developed a theory of uniformitarianism of geologic formations of the Earth. This theory states that the forces that shape the planet in the present day are the same as what formed the surface in the past.

Hutton's theory was revolutionary for his era; the popular theory of catastrophism, which argued that only natural catastrophes formed rock layers, was in direct contradiction. Hutton's theory also advanced the idea that rock formation was a measurable process, indicating that millions of years were required, in significant conflict with the accepted belief in the 18th century that the Earth was only 6,000 years old.