Principles of Geology, Volume 3

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University of Chicago Press, 1991 - Science - 604 pages
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As important to modern world views as any work of Darwin, Marx, or Freud, Lyell's Principles of Geology has never before been available in paperback. In this third and final volume, Charles Lyell (1797-1875) devotes much attention to the "syntax of geology," that is, to a way of reconstructing the geological past on the basis of the "grammar" of the present processes he has described in the earlier volumes. He defines four periods of the Tertiary—Newer Pliocene, Older Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene—and argues that the deposits dating from each period demonstrate the uniformity of processes and environments throughout the Tertiary, and indeed in earlier periods of earth history.

Martin J. S. Rudwick has compiled a bibliography giving full references for the sources Lyell cites in all three volumes of the Principles.

 

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Contents

I
1
II
8
III
23
IV
35
V
45
VI
62
VII
75
VIII
95
XV
202
XVI
217
XVII
225
XVIII
241
XIX
257
XX
275
XXI
285
XXII
303

IX
103
X
118
XI
137
XII
155
XIII
171
XIV
183
XXIII
324
XXIV
337
XXV
352
XXVI
365
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About the author (1991)

Lyell was born in Kinnordy, Scotland. His father was a naturalist, and Lyell grew up surrounded by books on natural history, geology, and other sciences. He entered Oxford University at the age of 19 after a boarding-school education that was periodically interrupted by poor health. There his interest in geology was heightened. Although he studied law, he gave up legal work to study rocks and fossils. His contribution to geology is twofold. First, he showed that the earth is constantly changing, not by a series of worldwide catastrophes followed by new creations, but by slow, gradual processes. Like James Hutton, he believed and taught that present-day processes were the ones that shaped the past. It was the worldwide publication of Lyell's treatises and texts that led to the general acceptance of the principle of uniformitarianism, first put forth by Hutton. Second, Lyell contributed the principle of faunal succession and the notion of the time sequence of events. These were evidenced from spatial relationships among strata, faults, and intrusions. The data on which Lyell's contributions are based were gathered on numerous field excursions, most notably in southern Europe, the United States, and Canada. During these trips, Lyell collected numerous samples that he and his wife meticulously categorized and labeled. His writings show that he was also interested in, and concerned about, human problems, as well as problems of science. He touches upon social reforms in England and the problems of slavery in the United States. Lyell was a prolific writer, summarizing his thoughts, contributions, and achievements in these major works: "Principles of Geology" (1830, 1831, 1833), "Antiquity of Man," and "Travels in America." His health and strength declined after the death of his wife in 1873, and he died two years later. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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