Something Geology Essay

Something Geology

        This papers attempts to apply the principles of division and classification as strategy of writing by observing the following points in discussing a topic the history of geology. This paper divided the study of geology’ history to different periods as follows: Pre-scientific geology periods, 18th and 19th centuries and 20th century and onwards. The categorical division per period allows this paper to examine the major studies and discoveries and each period-category to determine the relevance of each period to each period category. In so doing, this paper asserts that knowledge must have evolved over time and each discovery in the latter period must be an expansion or improvement of earlier ones.

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     The pre-scientific geology period is characterized by humans just needing the simple knowledge of geology to enable them to choose certain types of rock which they used for axe-heads and knives. Thus, at the early part, there were the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, about 5000 to 2500 BC, where flint was was search in the now European areas including France, Portugal and Britain (State of New South Wales, 2005). This was followed by mining useful minerals such as iron ore, which allowed smelting techniques which people used in their manufacture of metal tools possible. Included in this period is the classical period, when the Greek, Arabic and Roman civilizations contributed to the growth of knowledge about the earth such as the recognition of erosion and deposition of surface material, descriptions of eruptions and some of the theories being put forward at the time to explain natural phenomena. The medieval and renaissance times saw no mark interest except for some advances such as the recognition that fossil shells are the remains of once-living organisms and that changes had occurred in the relationship between sea and land, knowledge of minerals and metal carrying veins.   The seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, being part still of this period, saw some advances in geological knowledge in the in the fields of mineralogy and mining, such the direct observation by Steno on his study of rocks, thereby enabling him recognition of particular aspects of sedimentation (State of New South Wales, 2005).

       It is during the 18th and 19th centuries that a big change had happened.  It is at this point in time that geology is believed to have become a science as geologists commemorate 1775 as the year in which, at a small mining academy at Freiburg in Germany, where geology was first taught by Abraham Werner. This was followed by Charles Lyell publishing the classic textbook, ‘Principles of Geology’, in 1830-1833 (State of New South Wales, 2005). With a quite good number of many basic principles of geology, particularly important that James Hutton were being recognized and described during this period, geology must have really come to be borne as separate science. Webner, a careful mineralogist, drew up an excellent system of classification of minerals based on their properties. Although not traveling extensively, Werner was able to publish few of his theories but the ideas presented in his popular lectures were soon spread throughout Europe by the enthusiasm of his students (State of New South Wales, 2005).

      Another important part of this period is the life of a medical graduate of Edinburgh University, by the name of Hutton, who inherited good fortune to enable him to take up farming and that resulted to have great deal of time in examining interesting rock outcrops in Scotland and Northern England, until he formulated his paper entitled “Theory of The earth” (State of New South Wales, 2005).  For this, Hutton could be regarded as the “father of modern geology”. His most important concept was that of uniformity, which explains that the idea that processes active today were also active in the past, and thus that all geological phenomena can be understood in the light of present processes. The concept latter became known as “uniformitarianism”.  An important part of this era is the life of William Smith, who is considered as one of the greatest of the early geologists with his recognition of stratigraphical successions based on fossils and his excellent geological maps mark the beginning of a new era in geology (State of New South Wales, 2005).

       From 20th century and onwards, one would now see the establishment of a geological time scale.  This period, particularly in 1822, saw the local names given by Smith to many units of the Secondary rocks being used widely such as Carboniferous (or coal measures) and Cretaceous. By studying the Jurassic System, Smith was able to establish the principles of stratigraphy and at about the same time, Cuvier’s new standards and methods in stratigraphy, were made and especially in palaeontology. Cuvier has wrongly thought that changes in the fossils found in rock successions indicated sudden revolutions. This was too interpreted by Cuvier to mean that deposition was halted and living forms were destroyed and being replaced later by newly created forms, thus resulting to his “catastrophic theory” that has made a great pressure on geology for many years. Thus from this and other works of other geologist, the general geological time scale based on fossils and stratigraphic mapping was established by the middle of the 19th century (State of New South Wales, 2005).

       Oppositions did not miss the geological method of calculating the ages of minerals and rocks, both from religious authorities and from physicists. Using however the discoveries in geology, some estimated the age of the earth and that Creation might have occurred in 4004 BC. Some physicists, under the leadership of by Lord Kelvin, maintained that the age of earth could not exceed more than 100 million years (State of New South Wales, 2005).  This Kelvin assumed that the earth began as a molten mass and was in process of cooling. However, this estimate as to age must have been longer when there was the discovery of radioactivity in minerals in 1896 which showed that the earth was cooling down at a much slower rate than Kelvin had estimated. This development caused the use of techniques based on the breakdown of radioactive isotopes of carbon, uranium, and other elements to gauge the age of the earth and the extent of each geological period (State of New South Wales, 2005).

        Other geological advances were made in geology in relation to other sciences such the  science of petrology, important advances in the understanding of the chemistry of rocks, geomorphological studies that caused recognition of the effects of Pleistocene glaciation in Europe and the USA and the cycle of erosion (State of New South Wales, 2005).

      Geology explains of the structure and characteristic of earth under different periods where each latter period is proven to be more advanced as the earlier period. Before geology became a science, knowledge of it was used to choose a rock. However, the latest period saw the use of discoveries in geology to measure the age of the earth. Categorizing therefore that each period in time to be stages where knowledge has evolved, paper concludes the next period to come will more discoveries that would aid mankind to explain the world he lives in and how to cope with naturally logical changes.

Reference:

State of New South Wales (2005), History of geology, {www document} URL http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/sciences/Earthscience/Geology/AboutGeology/Historyofgeology/Historyofgeology.htm, Accessed July 25, 2007