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Worlds Before AdamThe Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform$
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Martin J. S. Rudwick

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226731285

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226731308.001.0001

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Geohistory in Retrospect (1833)

Geohistory in Retrospect (1833)

Chapter:
(p.379) Chapter 26 Geohistory in Retrospect (1833)
Source:
Worlds Before Adam
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226731308.003.0027

This chapter presents Charles Lyell's detailed reconstruction of geohistory, focused on the Tertiary era. His concept of the ever-changing composition of the Tertiary molluskan fauna, combined with his claim that the stratigraphical record was an intrinsically imperfect record of geohistory, led him to argue that the successive periods of the Tertiary era (Eocene, Miocene, Older Pliocene, and Newer Pliocene) were no more than temporally scattered samples of geohistory, snatched from the ravages of time and preserved by chance in spatially scattered “basins.” For each period, reviewed retrospectively from the present back into the deeper past, Lyell reconstructed in turn the same array of physical processes and environments, demonstrating that the earth had been essentially in a steady state throughout the Tertiary era.

Keywords:   Charles Lyell, geohistory, Tertiary era

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