The geological observations of Robert Hooke (1635–1703) on the Isle of Wight
E. T. Drake, 2007. "The geological observations of Robert Hooke (1635–1703) on the Isle of Wight", Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel, P. N. Wyse Jackson
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As Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society of London, Robert Hooke (1635–1703) was too busy to have been considered a ‘geological traveller’. Yet he made fundamental geological observations whenever he did travel. He set these observations in a series of lectures he gave at the Royal Society over a period of some thirty years. These lectures were published posthumously by Richard Waller in 1705 as Lectures and Discourses of Earthquakes and Subterraneous Eruptions. Although his contemporary Nicolaus Stenonis, or Steno, has been recognized as the founder of geology, Hooke's more profound and compelling observations and explanations have been largely ignored by the geological community. There is also evidence that Hutton benefited considerably from Hooke's ideas.
Hooke's writings show that he derived many of his geological hypotheses from his intimate knowledge of the processes taking place on the shores of his birthplace, the Isle of Wight. This paper presents what Hooke observed and described and is illustrated with photos taken by the author on the shores of the Isle of Wight.
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In the last four centuries geologists have traversed the globe, searching for economically important materials or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Geologists have often been at the vanguard of scientific exploration.
The microscopist Robert Hooke explored the Isle of Wight, and Charles Darwin the Cape Verde islands and parts of South America. The volcanic wonders of Italy and central France attracted native and foreign visitors including Lyell and Murchison. The Tyrrell brothers faced great hardship in northern Canada, as did the actor and mineralogist Charles Lewis Giesecke in Greenland. The development of Sydney, Australia depended on finding limestone for building. French geologists relied on camels in the Sahara, and Grenville Cole trusted his tricycle to carry him across Europe.
Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel focuses on the complexities of geological exploration and will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, historians of science and to the general reader interested in science.