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History of Geology

Geology and Generals: How Geology influenced the Battle of Gettysburg (Part II.)

Field_Of_Gettysburg_1863

“With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up.” The Art of War, by Sun Tzù The battleground of Gettysburg was shaped by ancient tectonic movements, sediments transported by rivers and deposited in lakes and finally [...]

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History of Geology

Geology and Generals: How Geology influenced the Gettysburg Campaign (Part I.)

BRESSAN_War_Geology_Gettysburg

“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.” The Art of War, by Sun Tzù In 1863, after more than two years of Civil War, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia launches [...]

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History of Geology

Star Wars Geology

“There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: the American Revolution, World War II, and the Star Wars Trilogy.” Bart Simpson in “Bart the General” (1990) Geology played a role in many past conflicts, but can war – even if only a fictional future war – play a role in geological fieldwork? The film [...]

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History of Geology

Battlefield Earth – the Geological Legacy of War

It was during the first World War that the impact of human warfare on the landscape exponentially  increased. Large armies equipped with the most advanced military technology- especially the high energy explosives evolved rapidly – devastated entire landscapes along the Western Front, stretching from the English Channel to the Swiss mountains. One of the most [...]

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History of Geology

June 6, 1944: The Geology of D-Day

Into the Jaws of Death, by Robert F. Sargent (1944)

June 6, 1944 – in planning for D-Day – also geology was considered, as aerial photographs of the shores of Normandy were studied to find suitable landing sites for the invasion. The confluence of larger rivers with the English Channel between the harbors of Le Havre and Cherbourg created sandy shorelines were a landing with [...]

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History of Geology

Thomas Jefferson’s Patriotic Monsters

WISTAR_1799_Megalonyx

In the late 18th century earth-sciences experienced a revolution. The principles of modern rock classification were introduced and sediments subdivided by the content of embedded fossils. Animals of the past apparently differed from modern ones in their abundance, diversity, shape and some organisms were completely unknown to contemporary scholars. This observations had at first an [...]

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History of Geology

Baron Cuvier and the Question How Mummies Could Evolve

Toth_Hunefer_Papyrus

“Every one has heard of the Ibis, the bird to which the ancient Egyptians paid religious worship; which they brought up in the interior of their temples, which they allowed to stray unharmed trough their cities, and whose murderer, even though involuntary, was pnished by death; which they embalmed with as much care as their [...]

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History of Geology

Cryptozoon – In Search of the “Hidden Life”

BRESSAN_algae_mat

In the first edition of “On the Origin of Species” (1859) Darwin only briefly addresses the earliest known fossils, or better the lack thereof: “If the theory [of evolution] be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed . . . and the world swarmed with living creatures. [...]

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History of Geology

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 [...]

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History of Geology

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 [...]

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