|09-19-2011, 03:55 PM||#1|
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Hooke, Robert: Discourse of Earthquakes (1705), V1, 19 Sept 2011
Robert Hooke (1635-1703) is well known to biologists as the author of Micrographia, the first scientific treatise using a microscope. His work on earthquakes and other geologic phenomena is not as well known, but deserves to be. As I was reading Hooke's work on earthquakes, I was astonished at his suppositions: based on his study of fossils he was able to correctly interpret that fossils were the remains of ancient life; from their occurrences in strata of high mountains far from current oceans, he was able to deduce that these occurrances proved there have been widespread elevations of former sea floors to great heights above the sea, and they also implied that land areas became submerged below sealevel; from the fact that many fossils were unlike living species he concluded that there have been mass extinctions in the past, and that probably there were processes occurring in the past that were similar to what we now call the evolution of animals and plants. He also had a working knowledge of sedimentary processes such as erosion and deposition, and explained the formation of graded sediments (coarse-grained sand continuously grading upward into smaller and smaller particles within a single sedimentary stratum). He realized that much time was required for these processes to occur but did not propose this concept, perhaps because of the pressure of religious opinions about the age of the world.
The source of this epub is the material in Part V of a six-part compendium of Hooke's work collected and published by Richard Waller in 1705 after Hooke's death. The same material is also available for on-line reading at Oxford University's Digital Library of 17th, 18th, and 19th Century Geological Literature.
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