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Geology

Geology (from Greek γη- (ge-, "the earth") and
λογος (logos, "science") is the science
and study of the earth, its history, and the processes that shape it. The
term geology is first mentioned by Richard de Bury in 1473. He used it to
distinguish between earthly and theological jurisprudence.

Geology meaning science of the earth is first used by Jean-Andr de Luc in
the year 1778 and introduced by Bndict de Saussure in the year 1779 as a
fixed term.

Geology is also sometimes used about similar studies of other bodies of the
solar system. However, specialised terms such as selenology (studies of the
Moon), areology (of Mars), etc., are also in use.

History

Georg Agricola (1494-1555) wrote the first systematic treatise about mining
and about smelting works: De re metallica libri XII with an appendix Buch
von den Lebewesen unter Tage (book of the creatures beneath the earth). He
covered subjects like wind energy, hydrodynamic power, melting cookers,
transport of ores, extraction of soda, sulfur and alum, and administrative
issues. The book has been published in 1556.

James Hutton is often viewed as the first modern geologist. In 1785 he
presented a paper entitled Theory of the Earth to the Royal Society of
Edinburgh. In his paper, he explained his theory that the Earth must be much
older than had previously been supposed, in order to allow enough time for
mountains to be eroded, and for the sediment to form new rocks at the bottom
of the sea, which were then raised up to dry land.

Followers of Hutton were known as plutonists because they believed that some
rocks were formed by vulcanism which is the deposition of lava from
volcanoes, as opposed to the neptunists, who believed that all rocks had
settled out of a large ocean whose level gradually dropped over time.

William Smith (1769-1839) drew some of the first geological maps and began
the process of ordering rock strata (layers) by examining the fossils
contained in them.

Sir Charles Lyell first published his famous book, Principles of Geology, in
1830 and continued to publish new revisions until he died in 1875. He
successfully promoted the doctrine of uniformitarianism. This theory states
that slow geological processes occurred throughout the earth's history, and
are still occurring today. In contrast, catastrophism is the theory that
Earth's features formed in single, catastrophic events and remained
unchanged thereafter. (Hutton believed in uniformitarianism, but the idea
was not widely accepted at the time.)

The theory of continental drift was proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912 and
by Arthur Holmes, but wasn't broadly accepted until the 1960s when the
theory of plate tectonics was developed.

Fields

There are many different fields within the discipline of Geology, and it
would be hard to list all of them. Some include, however: geochemistry,
hydrogeology (or geohydrology), petroleum geology, economic geology, soil
science, climatology, biogeology, geodetics and geophysics.

Subdisciplines within geology proper include structural geology,
sedimentology and stratigraphy, mineralogy (study of minerals), petrology
(study of rocks), geomorphology (study of landforms), seismology (also a
field in geophysics) and volcanology (the study of volcanic activity).

There is also engineering geology, which supports civil engineering,
especially geotechnical engineering, and geological engineering. The
difference between geological engineering and engineering geology is real:
geological engineers are licensed as engineers, engineering geologists are
licensed as geologists.
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