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History of Geology up to 1780
Puche Riart, Octavio
History of Geology up to 1780.
"Encyclopedia of Geology".
Elsevier Academic Press, Amsterdam, pp. 167-172.
Ancient civilisations in contact with nature inquired about their origins and about particular geodynamic phenomena. In most cases they satisfied themselves with empiric explanations; they even used deities in order to understand inexplicable situations. Little by little humans learnt how to observe their environment and arrange processes. During the Renaissance the first geologic principIes were born and this knowledge spread rapidly. Natural phenomena were understood in terms of dynamic cause-effect, although many dogmatic and magic interpretations persisted. Many authors agree that geology, began to be structured as a science in the second half of the eighteenth century with Abraham Gottlob Werner (17491817), father of Neptunism (Figure 1). However, sorne geologic paradigms such as diluvialism existed before neptunism; all of them contained countless mistakes and ambiguities. This article outlines the period up until 1780, which thus incorporates the work of James Hutton (see Famous Geologists: Hutton). His ideas were important in the development of geology, more specifically relating to the origins and dating of rocks. Geology was not completely defined till the birth of Stratigraphy at the end of the eighteenth century and Palaeontology at around 1830.
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