The rise of geology as a science in Germany around 1800
Special attention was paid to geology and mineralogy in the German countries around 1800. Following the final decades of the eighteenth century, during which an essential understanding of the natural history of the Earth was gained, geology developed into an independent science. Mining was dependent on geological findings, which in turn promoted geology. This process was driven by lecturers in the mining academies founded at that time, mining civil servants, university professors and also by private scholars. In this process, the Mining Academy of Freiberg, at which German and foreign students took their degrees, was of great importance. Abraham Gottlob Werner worked there as a lecturer who combined geological findings – based on his theory of Neptunism – into one systematic doctrine, imparting his ideas to many students over decades. These students became successful mining and metallurgy officials in the first years of the nineteenth century, and professors of geology and mineralogy at universities in Germany and abroad. During the same period, Leopold von Buch and Alexander von Humboldt contributed to the consolidation of geology as a natural science in Germany. Leopold von Buch had not only recognized the task of developing historical geology; he himself made important contributions to the stratigraphy of the Mesozoic and to palaeontology. The term ‘guide fossil’ was established by him. His coloured geological map of Western and Central Europe, published in 1826 and with five editions up to 1843, met with great approval.
Figures & Tables
The Making of the Geological Society of London
Founded in 1807, the Geological Society of London became the world’s first learned society devoted to the Earth sciences. In celebration of the Society’s 200-year history, this book commemorates the lives of the Society’s 13 founders and sets geology in its national and European context at the turn of the nineteenth century. In Britain, geology was emerging as a subject in its own right from three closely related disciplines — chemistry, mineralogy and medicine — disciplines that reflect the principal professions and interests of the founders. The tremendous energy and cooperation of these 13 men, about whom little was previously known, quickly mobilized like-minded men around the country and fuelled the nation’s passion for geology; an enthusiasm that soon spread to America and Australia. Two previously unpublished works from this period, essential to understanding the founding of the Society, are reproduced here for the first time. The book closes with a review of the Society’s 2007 Bicentenary celebrations.