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Posts Tagged "Today in Geohistory"

History of Geology

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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History of Geology

Alexander von Humboldt and the Hand-Beast

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The German naturalist F. W. H. Alexander von Humboldt (born September 14, 1769-1859) is remembered as great geographer and explorer (maybe his name is even the most common on topographic maps), but his early education focused on mining engineering (and economy, as wished by his mother) and he made some important contributions to geology, for [...]

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History of Geology

Happy Birthday Plate Tectonics!

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September 7, marks the anniversary of the publication of an important paper, “Magnetic Anomalies Over Oceanic Ridges” (1964) describes the discovery of parallel stripes of magnetized igneous rocks along the ocean floor. These stripes are formed when lava pours out along the Mid-Ocean-Ridges, cools and solidifies and pushes aside older oceanic and continental crust. This [...]

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History of Geology

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

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“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

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

Baron Cuvier and the Question How Mummies Could Evolve

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“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

William Buckland & The Noble Art of Coprology

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“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 [...]

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History of Geology

The Man who made Mountains

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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 [...]

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History of Geology

A.R. Wallace on Geology, Great Glaciers and the Speed of Evolution

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“Very scanty acquaintance with practical geology, I’m exceedingly interested in all wider problems with which it deals” Alfred Russel Wallace (1896) When Charles Darwin published “The Origin of Species” in November 1859 geologists were still discussing the age of the earth. Deep time was an essential prerequisite to explain the recent biodiversity by gradual and [...]

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History of Geology

October 23, 4004 B.C.: Happy Birthday Earth!

October 23 is (in)famous as supposed earth’s birthday – this date is mentioned in many textbooks retelling the life of Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656). In 1650 Ussher published a book with the title “Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti” (Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the earliest Beginning of the World), [...]

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