The History of EARTH SCIENCE! IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS NOTHING THEN THERE WAS… The Big Bang The following are people that shaped our thoughts about Geologic History. JAMES USSHER A respected scholar of the Bible. He created a chronology of human and Earth history in which he determined that the Earth was only a few thousand years old. He thought that the earth was created in 4004 B.C. His thoughts were widely accepted among scientific and religious leaders of the day, and was even printed in the margins of the Bible. ABRAHAM ORTELIUS Ortelius, a Dutch cartographer and publisher, was the author of the first modern atlas. 1596 - Abraham Ortelius suggested that the continents had been displaced from their previous positions. 'Ortelius suggested that the Americas were "torn away from Europe and Africa”. NICOLAUS STENO Nicolaus Steno, a Danish anatomist, geologist, and priest observed the changes in a sequence of rock layers while working in the mountains of Italy. Steno's observations became known as the Law of Superposition (1669) which simply stated that in a sequence of sedimentary rock layers, each layer of rock is older than the layer above it and younger than the rock layer below it. JAMES HUTTON Scottish scientist James Hutton, called the father of modern geology, began to try to figure out the Earth's age from rock layers. He studied and tested local rock layers in an attempt to calculate time with respect to erosion, weathering, and sedimentation. In the late 1785, Hutton published his Theory of the Earth. He put forth the fundamental principle that is a pillar of geology: Uniformitarianism- which states that the processes that operate today have also operated in the geologic past. CHARLES LYELL Lyell was credited for advancing the basic principles of modern geology. Between 1830 and 1872, he produced 11 editions of his, Principles of Geology. Although the doctrine of uniformitarianism did not originate with him, he was most successful in interpreting and publicizing it for society at large. ALFRED WEGENER In 1915, a Bavarian scientist named Alfred Wegener (later referred to as the "Father of Plate Tectonics") noticed, while working near the North Pole, that his compass needle did not point to where north "should" have been. In other words, true north and magnetic north were in two separate localities. Wegener theorized that the poles (both North and South) were "wandering" with time. He called this "Polar Wandering". In subsequent years, he began to also notice how continents fit together like a jigsaw puzzle…most notably the western coast of Africa and the eastern coast of South America. In addition, rocks from these localities were the same rock type, same age, and contained the same age and type of fossils. His theory became known as "Continental Drift“. He now realized that it was not the poles that shifted, but the continents themselves. Wegener died of a heart attack on a voyage studying glaciers near the North Pole in early 1930 and his work was virtually forgotten for several decades. The last photo of Alfred Wegener and Rasmus Villumsen, taken on 1 November 1930 (Wegener's 50th birthday) as they were leaving the "Eismitte" Station. (Photograph copyright Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research) Evidence used by Wegener: 1. Shape of continents fit like a jigsaw puzzle. 2. Similar fossils on both continents 3. Mountain belts line up 4. Mineral belts line up HARRY HESS ON THE GLOMAR CHALLENGER. It was not until World War II that a technology (Echo Sounding) developed to a degree that a stunning discovery was made by a geologist and seaboat commander, Harry Hess, aboard the research vessel, Glomar Challenger. He noticed that rocks on either side of the rift-zone were a perfect mirror image of each other on either side of the rift zone. His theory of Sea-floor Spreading (1959) stated that magma from submarine volcanoes oozed out of the rift zone and that the material spread on both sides of the rift. ECHO SOUNDING DEVICE USED BY HESS FREDERICK VINE MATTHEWS AND DRUMMOND Later in 1963, Frederick Vine and Drummond Matthews, a Cambridge University professor/student team, discovered the principles of magnetic patterns on the ocean floor. Further findings revealed that during earth history there have been several "magnetic reversals" (A time when the compass needle would have pointed south instead of north). ROBERT PALMER AND DONALD MACKENZIE In the late 1967, two scientists, revisited Wegener's findings and combined them with Hess' discoveries to formulate a new package called "Plate Tectonics". Robert Palmer and Donald Mackenzie are credited with naming the theory of “plate tectonics”.