The earliest geology was mining geology. From man’s concern for metals there evolved a truly scientific spirit of inquiry as to their occurrence and source which appears to have antedated all his other orderly considerations regarding the make-up of the earth.
This initial emphasis long persisted. Through Aristotle, whose distinction as to origin of rocks and of metals would have been perfect had he thought to coin the terms pyrogenic and hydrothermal; through Theophrastus, author of the first book on earth science, whose perspective was definitely economic; through Agricola, premier observer, inspired and aided by what he found in the mines; through Werner, masterful teacher at the illustrious Freiberg Mining Academy set amid famous mines— through such as these descended the main line of geological progress. All over Europe, mines were raising questions and affording answers to an expanding group of investigators, geological and mineralogical. The very name mineral comes from mine; and the outstanding centers of systematic instruction in geology and geognosy were the mining schools.
Of course, there had eventually to come a shift of dominance from the part to the whole, whereby the broadest questions of the science would occupy the center of the stage. By this gradual development, general geology may be regarded as having definitely arrived by the time of Hutton, Werner, and Playfair at about the close of the eighteenth century. In this setting it was that America became geology-conscious. With the extremely rapid development of the science and increasing specialization came recognition of the several subdivisions, such as structural, paleontological, and petrological, with the study of ore deposits included in what became established as the economic subdivision. Nowhere else was specialization so evident as in the United States, or its value better vindicated. And in no other division of the science was this more true than in the study of ore deposition.
Figures & Tables
Published in celebration of the Geological Society of America’s 50th anniversary, this 578-page volume presents the progress in geology from 1888 to 1938. Written to serve as a comprehensive summary, both for the generalist and the specialist, it explores the fundamental fields of geology, including physiography, glacial geology, oceanography, invertebrate paleontology, vertebrate paleontology, prehistoric archeology, paleobotany, stratigraphy, sedimentation, structural geology, pre-Cambrian, mineralogy, petrology, volcanology, geochemistry, general geophysics, seismology, ore deposits, petroleum geology, exploratory geophysics, and engineering geology.