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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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Imagining geohistory (1831–40)

Imagining geohistory (1831–40)

Chapter:
(p.451) Chapter 31 Imagining geohistory (1831–40)
Source:
Worlds Before Adam
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226731308.003.0032

This chapter discusses geologists' development of a deeply geohistorical outlook in the 1830s. It considers the “great Devonian controversy,” which forced geologists in Britain and elsewhere to examine the foundations of their use of fossils in stratigraphy. The chapter describes Swiss geologist Amanz Gressly's concept of “facies.” In the case of the Jurassic formations in the Jura hills on the Franco-Swiss border, Gressly interpreted the contrasting facies, each with its own distinctive rock types and fossils, as the result of simultaneous deposition under contrasting physical and environmental conditions. This signaled a new level of geohistorical insight in the interpretation of stratigraphy. In effect, Gressly plotted in space and time what naturalists might have seen, had they been able to explore the Jurassic seas in a suitable underwater time-machine.

Keywords:   geohistory, life, earth, Amanz Gressly, facies, stratigraphy

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