Principles of Geology, Vols 1-3
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Sir Charles Lyell was a Scottish geologist, best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which presented uniformitarianism - the idea that the Earth was shaped by the same scientific processes still in operation today - to the broad general public. His scientific contributions included an explanation of earthquakes, the theory of gradual "backed up-building" of volcanoes, and in stratigraphy the division of the Tertiary period into the Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene. He also coined the currently-used names for geological eras, Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Lyell, following deistic traditions, favoured an indefinitely long age for the earth, despite geological evidence suggesting an old but finite age. He was a close friend of Charles Darwin, and contributed significantly to Darwin's thinking on the processes involved in evolution. He helped to arrange the simultaneous publication in 1858 of papers by Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace on natural selection, despite his personal religious qualms about the theory. He later published evidence from geology of the time man had existed on Earth.
Principles of Geology: being an attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation is a book by the Scottish geologist Charles Lyell, first published in 3 volumes in 1830-1833. Lyell used geology throughout as a basis to strengthen his argument for Uniformitarianism. He used geological proof to determine that the Earth was older than 6,000 years, as had been previously contested. The book shows that the processes that are occurring in the present are the same processes that occurred in the past. The book was influential, not least on the young graduate Charles Darwin, who was given Volume 1 of the first edition by Robert FitzRoy, captain of HMS Beagle, just before they set out (December 1831) on their voyage on the Beagle. On their first stop ashore at St Jago, Darwin found rock formations which, when seen "through Lyell's eyes", gave him a revolutionary insight into the geological history of the island, an insight he applied throughout his travels. While in South America, Darwin received Volume 2, which rejected the idea of organic evolution, proposing "Centres of Creation" to explain diversity and territory of species.
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