“With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up.” The Art of War, by Sun Tzù The battleground of Gettysburg was shaped by ancient tectonic movements, sediments transported by rivers and deposited in lakes and finally [...]
“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.” The Art of War, by Sun Tzù In 1863, after more than two years of Civil War, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia launches [...]
“There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: the American Revolution, World War II, and the Star Wars Trilogy.” Bart Simpson in “Bart the General” (1990) Geology played a role in many past conflicts, but can war – even if only a fictional future war – play a role in geological fieldwork?
It was during the first World War that the impact of human warfare on the landscape exponentially increased. Large armies equipped with the most advanced military technology- especially the high energy explosives evolved rapidly – devastated entire landscapes along the Western Front, stretching from the English Channel to the Swiss mountains.
June 6, 1944 – in planning for D-Day – also geology was considered, as aerial photographs of the shores of Normandy were studied to find suitable landing sites for the invasion.
This Week Geohistory: May 23, 1707: Birthday of botanist Carl Linnaeus, his famous classification system for the natural world (the binomial nomenclature) included also minerals, as he himself was also interested in mining geology, and influenced later more famous geologists, like Abraham Gottlob Werner.
The west coast of the U.S. is not only characterized by earthquakes and related myths, but also by volcanoes and also these natural phenomena became incorporated in supernatural stories.
In the late 18th century earth-sciences experienced a revolution. The principles of modern rock classification were introduced and sediments subdivided by the content of embedded fossils.
“Every one has heard of the Ibis, the bird to which the ancient Egyptians paid religious worship; which they brought up in the interior of their temples, which they allowed to stray unharmed trough their cities, and whose murderer, even though involuntary, was pnished by death; which they embalmed with as much care as their [...]
The prevailing geological model of the early 19th century was characterized by an almost static earth, maybe slowly cooling and shrinking, until the molten interior would eventually be completely frozen and solidified.
In the first edition of “On the Origin of Species” (1859) Darwin only briefly addresses the earliest known fossils, or better the lack thereof: “If the theory [of evolution] be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed .
In August 1881 the journal “Science” published an article with a letter exchange by two amateur geologist – British Charles R.
Roy Chapman Andrews was not only an intrepid explorer and palaeontologist, but also a gifted promoter. The Central Asiatic Expeditions were accompanied by cameras to document the entire work.
In the Renaissance (1450-1600) architecture and pictorial arts, but also scientific disciplines like astronomy, physics and medicine, experienced a rebirth and important improvements – but what about geology?
The first maps used symbols to characterize single outcrops; later maps introduced shaded areas to display the distribution of specific rock-types, but due the high printing-costs these maps were printed only in black & white, making them hard to read.
Sometimes a geological map supports an intriguing idea not by showing the rocks that are there, but by showing the rocks that aren’t there anymore, eroded by a flood of biblical proportions.
In the 18th century the geological significance of volcanoes was (literally) a hot topic for naturalists – many considered volcanoes only as a local phenomenon, the visible fire feed by underground sulfur veins and the rocks found around them being the ashes of this combustion.
March 23, 1769 marks the birthday of pioneering stratigrapher William Smith, who is also credited with creating the first useful geological map, however like many other great accomplishments also Smith’s idea of depicting the distribution of rocks on a topographic map didn’t materialize out of nowhere.
It’s probably one of the most famous volcanic eruptions of all times – the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius – so may it surprises that the exact day of this historic event is unknown.
“Approach, approach, ingenuous youth, And learn this fundamental truth: The noble science of Geology is founded firmly in Coprology” P.B.