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History of Geology

History of Geology

What rocks tell and how we came to understand it
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    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.
  • All Good Things must End…


    Eventually everybody has to face change and his personal Chicxulub and so will the History of Geology blog end as part of the Scientific American Network. I’m very grateful to the Scientific American Staff and the many bloggers in the network for the support, opportunities and especially the fun offered in these past three years. [...]

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    How it all ends…


    “Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.” Robert Frost (1874-1963) The [...]

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    Geological Treasures in Ancient Egypt


    November 26, 1922 archaeologist Howard Carter (1874-1939) entered the tomb of Tutankhamun, pharaoh in ancient Egypt from 1332 to 1323 BC. The grave was filled with precious jewelry, including a breastplate decorated with a scarab, made from a greenish-yellow gemstone. Fig.1. Pendant found in Tutankhamun’s tomb with gemstone of  desert glass, photo by Jon Bodsworth [...]

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    Radioactivity and Earth´s Age


    For a long time the apparent discrepancy between the age of earth and the age of the cosmos posed a great problem to geologists and astronomers alike. Geologists had calculated, using methods like erosion or sedimentation rates, ages for earth spanning from just three million to 15 billion years. Physicists and astronomers, based mostly on [...]

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    Earth’s Age and the Cosmic Calendar


    During  the 19th century geologists realized that earth was quite older than previously believed, however this discovery posed an even greater question: what about the universe?  Did earth (like some fundamental creationists believed and still believe) predate the cosmos, were  earth and the cosmos created at the same time or came earth later? Early geologists [...]

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    The Season of the Witch: Climate-Change and Witch-Hunt Through the Ages


    August 3, 1562 a devastating thunderstorm hit central Europe, damaging buildings, killing animals and destroying crops and vineyards. The havoc caused by this natural disaster was so great, so unprecedented, that soon an unnatural origin for the storm was proposed. More alarming was the impression that it was not the only climatic anomaly at the [...]

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    A (Zombie) Toad-in-the-Hole?


    May 8, 1733 two workers, Anders Halfwarder and Olof Sigräfwer, excitedly reported to superintendent Johan Gråberg, who was inspecting the quarry of Nybro near the village of Wamlingebo (Gotland, Sweden), a very strange discovery. While cutting large blocks of sandstone (of the 419Ma old Silurian Hamra-formation), Halfwarder spotted a frog sitting in the middle of [...]

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    Of Dragons and Geology


    Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) was a Swiss physician, but also quite interested in travels and natural sciences. He published his observations on the culture and natural world of the Alps as “Itinera per Helvetiae alpinas regiones facta annis 1702-1711“. In the introduction by the editor we read: “The name of Scheuchzer will be famous …[] [...]

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    Geologizing in the Realm of the Beast

    September 8, 1762 the young son of the Yolle‘s, herding the flock of sheep, disappeared near the village of Laval in the province of Dauphiné (France). Only the poor remains of the boy, partially eaten by a mysterious creature, were recovered. The pastor of Laval, named Raphaël, later described an encounter with this creature: “the [...]

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    The Strange Medical Case of the Radioactive Landslide


    The landslide of Köfels (named after a small village in Tyrol) is one of the largest recognized landslides in the Alps – large enough to dam up a 92 meters (300 feet) deep prehistoric lake and divide in two the valley of Ötz. Wood fragments discovered during the construction of a gallery in the landslide [...]

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