Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Is this the most influential geological book of all time?


James Hutton’s ‘Theory of the Earth’ was presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1785. As a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment era, Hutton’s work introduced the key geological principle of Uniformitarianism, and he is often referred to as the ‘father of modern geology’. His work includes the famous conclusion ‘The result, therefore, of our present enquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning,--no prospect of an end’.
This volume of Hutton's Theory of the Earth also contains his less well-known paper read to the Society in 1784, ‘The Theory of Rain’.
So do you agree this is the most influential geological book of all time? What about Lyell, Darwin, Smith (here we're count maps as equal publications to book), etc?  What about Alfred Wegener who published The Origins of Continents and Oceans in 1912 ....
". . . It is only by combing the information furnished by all the earth sciences that we can hope to determine 'truth' here, that is to say, to find the picture that sets out all the known facts in the best arrangement and that therefore has the highest degree of probability. Further, we have to be prepared always for the possibility that each new discovery, no matter what science furnishes it, may modify the conclusions we draw."
Perhaps modern text books should be held in higher regard for are they not used to educate and instruct thousands of students each and every year, a massive influence on the future of all Earth Science and Scientists. The Dynamic Earth by Skinner et al as well as Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy by Boggs are both on their 5th edition. Planet Earth by Emiliani is a best seller, not to mention An Introduction to Rock Forming Minerals by Deer, Howie and Zussman. Discuss what your Geology Bible was/is on facebook or below in the comments. Is it less, equal or more influential that the old greats of Hutton and Lyell? Which gets your vote for most influential geological book?

Hutton's book is currently on show in the foyer of Murchison House, and is loaned from the BGS library collection here in Scotland. You can visit the BGS Shop and view Hutton's book in the new exhibition space from Monday to Friday during office hours. 

Thanks for reading,
Marcus Mulcahy,  Manager of Bookshop and Sales Edinburgh & your friendly neighborhood press officer Lauren Noakes

1 comment:

scotfot said...

Charles Lyall Principles of geology must be up there as one of the greats. A more modern classic has to be Arthur Holmes. Principles of physical geology. Not only was it a gripping read but it also was well illustrated for its time and a great inspiration. A minor classic is Zittel, K.A. von. History of geology and palaeontology 1901. Its sufficiently close to all the 19th C action to make it a great read!