You can now eat Hutton’s unconformity. Behold: Hutton’s Unconformicake :-) http://all-geo.org/highlyallochthonous/2011/01/the-baking-of...
> Siccar Point is one of the most important geological sites in the world – but it took a 62-year-old farmer to spot its significance
Calling James Hutton a "farmer" is really a twist in narrative, when it proceeds to describe how he was a semi-genius polymath/inventor educated in medicine and chemistry who only bought a few farms after becoming wealthy as a scientist then being alienated from upper society for having an illegitimate son.
Wikipedia contains a far better example of this phenomenon of a rock face in Argentina over the authors photo:
Edit: Very interesting article none-the-less. Thanks for sharing
I love Hutton's line "We find no vestige of a beginning - no prospect of an end"....
Hardly surprising that Edinburgh became the birthplace of geology - few cities have their geological wonders quite so blatantly on display.
I can recommend the Geowalks around Edinburgh: http://www.geowalks.co.uk/
> Hutton realised that the formation and movement of these rocks to create the coastline we see at Siccar Point couldn’t happen in sudden cataclysms over years or decades
Color me skeptical. Why couldn’t these be quickly deposited layers that were later turned upright in some cataclysm? Why couldn’t they have taken decades?
Yes I know it’s heresy to question long established science, but that is the essence of science is it not? Questions and skepticism :-)
Off to do more reading I suppose.
Ref: Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth (1802) from Charles Darwin's Library
Along with Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia , which were studied by Lyell and Darwin as well.
If you're going to write a biographical piece (which is what this is) it's worth being precise. He was ostracized from polite society not for /having/, but /acknowledging/ a son born out of wedlock. The 18th century crawled with hypocrites.
Interesting biographical piece but very little science (or even reference to science) in the article. To be expected I suppose for a mainstream article. Hutton seems like an interesting guy, historically, but he could hardly be considered a scientist, even by 18th century standards.
Stephen J Gould writes in “Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time” that
Hutton did not draw his fundamental inferences from more astute observations in the field, but by imposing on the earth, à priori, the most pure and rigid concept of time’s cycle ever presented in geology—so rigid, in fact, that it required Playfair’s recasting to gain acceptability.
To which Gould says in the same book
In the whole of Hutton’s doctrine, he vigorously guarded himself against the admission of any principle which could not be founded on observation. He made no assumptions. Every step in his deductions was based on actual fact...
Geike’s mythical Hutton has been firmly entrenched in geological textbooks ever since.”
Please flag me if unappropriated but: the pictures used to illustrate this article uses HDR in a particularly unsubtle way (i.e. there are visible halos between the sky and the colors are way over saturated).
There are probably pictures of Siccar Point that reflect better the reality of the place than those gaudy images.