Jameson's 1809 book Elements of Geognosy
was the third volume of his System of Mineralogy
, and is the major source of knowledge about Abraham Gottlob Werner's Neptunian hypothesis on the origin of the world. At the start of the 19th century Werner's hypothesis was nearly univerally accepted by European scientists. He postulated that the present day earth evolved from an initial world covered by an immense ocean that contained, in a dissolved state, all the materials that sequentially formed every rock including granite, basalt, gneiss, slate, limestone, sandstone, etc. He also postulated universal formations; thus he proposed that red sandstones everwhere were extensions of a sandstone he named the "Old Red Sandstone". Werner published only two short books, and his geological system was chiefly spread by students who were convinced by his outstanding teaching abilities as displayed over many years at Freiberg University in Germany.
Professor Robert Jameson, FRS FRSE (1774–1854) was a Scottish naturalist and mineralogist. He attended classes at the Edinburgh University (1792-3), studying medicine, botany, chemistry, and natural history. In 1804, he became the third Regius Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University, a post that he held for fifty years. During this period he became the leading advocate in Britain of the Wernerian geological system, or Neptunism, and the leader of the Scottish Wernerians, founding and presiding over the Wernerian Natural History Society His convictions about the truth of Neptunism initially pitted him against James Hutton (1726–1797), a fellow Edinburg Scot and eminent geologist who argued for uniformitarianism, a theory that concluded tha the features of the Earth's crust were caused by slow natural processes over a long geologic time. Later in life, Jameson renounced Neptunism when he found it untenable and converted to the views of his opponent Hutton.
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