ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network
History of Geology

History of Geology


What rocks tell and how we came to understand it
History of Geology HomeAboutContact
  • Profile

    David Bressan Freelance geologist dealing with quaternary outcrops interested in the history and the development of geological concepts through time. Follow on Twitter @David_Bressan.
  • Vitruvian Geology – Leonardo da Vinci and the Realistic Depiction of the Earth’s Surface

    DA_VINCI_1490_Vitruvian_Man

    In the Renaissance (1450-1600) architecture and pictorial arts, but also scientific disciplines like astronomy, physics and medicine, experienced a rebirth and important improvements – but what about geology? There were some lone geniuses in the earth sciences – Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci (born April 15, 1452-1519) recognized fossils as petrified remains of former living [...]

    Keep reading »

    A Concise History of Geological Maps: The Harmony of Colors

    CHARPENTIER_1778_Mineralogische_Geographie

    The first maps used symbols to characterize single outcrops; later maps introduced shaded areas to display the distribution of specific rock-types, but due the high printing-costs these maps were printed only in black & white, making them hard to read. Maybe the first colored map was hand drawn by the German mineworker and later mine [...]

    Keep reading »

    A Concise History of Geological Maps: Mapping Noah’s Flood

    BRETZ_1919_Spokane_Flood

    Sometimes a geological map supports an intriguing idea not by showing the rocks that are there, but by showing the rocks that aren’t there anymore, eroded by a flood of biblical proportions. “No one with an eye for land forms can cross eastern Washington in daylight without encountering and being impressed by the “scabland.” Like [...]

    Keep reading »

    A Concise History of Geological Maps: Beneath this Map, there is an Igneous Idea

    ACER

    In the 18th century the geological significance of volcanoes was (literally) a hot topic for naturalists – many considered volcanoes only as a local phenomenon, the visible fire feed by underground sulfur veins and the rocks found around them being the ashes of this combustion. Some naturalists considered volcanoes as natural valves of a large [...]

    Keep reading »

    A Concise History of Geological Maps: From Outcrop to the first Map

    March 23, 1769 marks the birthday of pioneering stratigrapher William Smith, who is also credited with creating the first useful geological map, however like many other great accomplishments also Smith’s idea of depicting the distribution of rocks on a topographic map didn’t materialize out of nowhere. The German mining engineer Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) dedicated in [...]

    Keep reading »

    Pompeii – a Geological Movie-Review : The Last Day of Pompeii

    Anonimo_0079_Vesuvio_small

    It’s probably one of the most famous volcanic eruptions of all times – the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius – so may it surprises  that the exact day of this historic event is unknown. The date of August 24 given in all textbooks is based on two letters from the Roman author Pliny the [...]

    Keep reading »

    William Buckland & The Noble Art of Coprology

    BUCKLAND_1829_CoprolitesPlate

    “Approach, approach, ingenuous youth, And learn this fundamental truth: The noble science of Geology is founded firmly in Coprology” P.B. Dunacn quoted in BUCKLAND, F. 1883  Coprolites, from the Greek “kopros” and “litos” (or dung-stone), can be regarded as a variety of ichnofossils (trace fossils), defined more precisely as fossilized, large biodepositional structures, documenting the [...]

    Keep reading »

    Pompeii – a Geological Movie-Review : Introducing the Main Character

    Anonimo_0079_Vesuvio

    The new movie “Pompeii” reconstructs one of the most famous volcanic eruptions in history with unprecedented “3D” special effects – but even the best visuals can’t help if the science is wrong – so how geological accurate is the movie? 1.Dramatis Persona Fig.1. Mount Vesuvius as reconstructed in the new film “Pompeii” (from the movie [...]

    Keep reading »

    The Man who made Mountains

    WILLIS_1891_Mechanics_Appalachian_wax_folds

    U.S.G.S. engineer Bailey Willis († February 19, 1949) was known for his unorthodox approach to geological questions. Puzzled by the geological structures he discovered in mountain ranges, long before computer-models were available, he constructed a machine to simulate the mountain-forming process. In a box with a moveable piston he folded and crushed layers of beeswax [...]

    Keep reading »

    Coming Next: Pompeii – a Geological Movie-Review

    A new disaster movie, retelling the fate of the ancient town of Pompeii, will be released soon. The filmmakers spent six years researching the volcanic disaster that destroyed the town to make it as historically accurate as possible – but what about the geology? I will investigate some movie-mistakes in a series of upcoming posts [...]

    Keep reading »

    Search this blog:


    • Year:
    • Month:
    • Keyword:

    More from Scientific American

    Scientific American MIND iPad

    Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

    Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

    Subscribe Now >>

    X

    Email this Article

    X