ESS102H1 Lecture Notes - Neptunism, James Hutton, Plutonism

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30 Sep 2010
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Questions on class 2:
- list differences between
Leonardo da Vinci and Georg Agricola
Vinci: work not distributed. Fields: Erosion and sedimentation. Accurate observer. Others not aware
of his works.
Agricola: wrote the book De Re Metallica. Limited by what he could see. Field: Mining. Classified
minerals and explained how these unfolded. Latin = language of science, his works widely read
- Why did science change during the
Renaissance?
The printing of books made ideas & information disseminate. Ideas could circulate. Museums:
People put together collections that one person could not do himself in his lifetime.
Neptunists vs. Plutonists
an early controversy on the origin of rocks related to the questions of earths origin.
Viewed from a quarter millennium later, this controversy is often portrayed as a battle between two
eminent scientists and their schools of thought. These 2 were the most prominent ones, either
wrote widely read books. People travelled to listen to them. Easier for us to link this idea to 2 people
though there was more to it.
But: scientific controversy should not be primarily a battle between people, but between ideas.
However: battle between 2 titanic personalities is easier to report & remember
Neptunists[ - watermen
- rocks originated by sedimenting or precipitation out of a primeval ocean.
One ocean was the origin: rocks formed early in history.
Abraham Werner t Freiberg, Saxonia
Plutonist[ firemen
- rocks we see originated from heat. By cooling of molten magma or by other action of heat.
James Hutton t Edinburgh, Scotland
The Neptunists[
Werner t 1749 - 1817. Eastern Germany - Silesia. Studied law and mining in Freiberg and Leipzig.
Professor in 1775 at Bergakademie Freiberg. A mining school.
Proposed that all rocks had precipitated out of a single enormous flood.
Werner proposed that Earth was originally an irregular solid body covered completely with a heavily
saturated fluid. Over time, solids precipitated from this fluid in a regular succession: first the primitive
rocks, such as granite and gneiss; then the transition rocks, such as slates and some limestones; and
finally, recent rocks, such as sandstone and other types of limestone. As the fluid lost its chemical
content, it gradually became the salty oceans that we know today.
Harz and Freiberg key mining areas in Europe at the time. Silver was discovered here in 1180.
Bergakademie founded in 1765. 10 yrs later Werner joined as a faculty member. Well known
through Europe. Inspirational teacher. The great oracle of geology t Lyell on Werner
Another difference on Werner and Hutton: Werner very easy going and eloquence. Hutton was very
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Document Summary

Latin = language of science, his works widely read. The printing of books made ideas & information disseminate. People put together collections that one person could not do himself in his lifetime. Neptunists vs. plutonists an early controversy on the origin of rocks related to the questions of earths origin. Viewed from a quarter millennium later, this controversy is often portrayed as a battle between two eminent scientists and their schools of thought. These 2 were the most prominent ones, either wrote widely read books. Easier for us to link this idea to 2 people though there was more to it. But: scientific controversy should not be primarily a battle between people, but between ideas. However: battle between 2 titanic personalities is easier to report & remember. Rocks originated by sedimenting or precipitation out of a primeval ocean. One ocean was the origin: rocks formed early in history. By cooling of molten magma or by other action of heat.

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