What Are Uniformitarianism Catastrophism And Plates Tectonic Background Essay


The following survey will outline and discuss the task of researchers; Sir Charles Lyell, James Hutton, Alfred Wegener and Harry Hess. It will also describe how their work influenced the development of earth science from the time they made their theories/observations to today.

What are uniformitarianism, catastrophism and plates tectonic:


Uniformitarianism has took many, many years to be understood, proven and actually used as a theory on how things happen on and the earth.

When scientists started to understand the ways in which mountains and volcanoes are created and why deep sea trenched occurred etc, they began to understand that such things as these did not happen in just a matter of minutes scheduled to a catastrophic occurrence. It's by natural triggers and slow activities. As the motto for uniformitarianism is "the present is paramount to days gone by" which basically means everything that occurs today is an indicator of what took place before, interacting with the same occurrences.

The dictionary definition is: "Geology. Of or pertaining to the thesis that processes that managed in the distant geological past aren't different from those witnessed now. "


Catastrophism was around for a long time before uniformitarianism and was chosen as the favoured theory for years before uniformitarianism; they thought that everything that happened and modified the earth was scheduled to major catastrophes like violent volcano eruptions or meteorites from space impacting on the earth.

The dictionary description is: "Geology. The doctrine that one great geological changes in the earth's background were brought on by catastrophes alternatively than continuous evolutionary operations. "

Plates tectonic:

Plates tectonic will be the plates underneath the continents and are split up into 7 major plates; the African, UNITED STATES, South American, Eurasian, Australian, Antarctic, and Pacific plates. There's also some smaller plates, including the Arabian, Nazca, and Philippines plates. These plates are constantly moving for a price of about 2-10cm per yr. A number of the plates crash into each other while others simply follow each other or slip over and over each other. When the plates meet and are trapped together trying to go when one finally moves under the other it causes earthquakes and even tsunamis because one dish is thrust up-wards triggering the land above it to go up upwards.

Information about Globe Scientists:

Sir Charles Lyell, Adam Hutton, Alfred Wegener and Harry Hess all have something very important in keeping; they helped form the ideas, ideas and investigations of Plates tectonic, sea floor-spreading and the development of the idea uniformitarianism over catastrophism. Another paragraphs will introduce you to all or any of the above researchers, what they have and exactly how they did and also the meanings and need for uniformitarianism and catastrophism.

James Hutton:


James Hutton



D. o. B:

3 June 1726

D. o. D:

26 March 1797


Geologist, medical doctor, naturalist, chemist and experimental farmer.

Brief understanding:

Known as the "founding father of modern geology".

Started the theory of uniformitarianism

Influenced Sir Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin.

James Hutton was created in Edinborough in 1726 and examined many things from farming to chemistry. He wrote the famous reserve "theory of the planet earth", which gained the attention of several philosophers to come in later years and started the age of geology and new discoveries about how the planet earth works.

Hutton's farming interest made him more vunerable to the wonder and wonders of the earth so that he began to examine rocks he discovered that in fact the earth didn't form around 6, 000 years ago as told by the catholic religion, but in actual fact over millions of years ago, and that fossils found weren't the bone fragments of family pets that drowned in the great biblical flood. He pursued the idea that sedimentation (Sediment - mineral or organic matter deposited by normal water, air or snow. Sedimentation -the deposition or deposition of sediment. ), happens so little by little that "even the oldest stones are made of materials equipped from the ruins of former continents". He called these procedures the "great geological pattern" which happens regularly.

Sir Charles Lyell:


Sir Charles Lyell



D. o. B:

14 November 1797

D. o. D:

22 February 1875



Brief information:

He studied legislations and became a practising lawyer.

Wrote the "Principles of Geology", 1830, (12 editions), which quite simply made people recognize the theory of uniformitarianism.

Without him Charles Darwin mightn't have been able to demonstrate his theory of evolution.

Sir Charles Lyell was a United kingdom geologist and was the primary person who gained reputation for the theory of uniformitarianism. It started off as an understanding and contract for James Hutton's publication "theory of the planet earth", but then converted into an experience in showing uniformitarianism has and reaches work. His observations led scientists to believe slow, steady activities cause the earth to be formed and made, not catastrophic occurrences. Lyell's potential and flair for creative writing helped the theory become recognised by the worldwide community of scientists. The information and evidence collected was enough to move the positions of the scientists and really show them flaws in the idea of catastrophism.

Without Lyell's clarification and devotion of detailing and proving uniformitarianism maybe Charles Darwin wouldn't have had the opportunity to progress his theories of evolution for individuals to trust and understand.

Alfred Wegener:


Alfred Wegener



D. o. B:

November 1, 1880

D. o. D:

November 1930


Astronomy and meteorology

Brief insight:

Lecturer of astronomy and meteorology at a German university.

Started to meddle with sciences outside his field.

Wrote an important newspaper called "The foundation of Continents and Oceans" which was the start of the ideas on continental drift and plates tectonic.

Alfred Wegener was a German lecturer on astronomy and meteorology which was his enthusiasm until he occurred to come across a newspaper on the idea of any land bridge between Brazil and Africa. This made him try to understand the true reason for the jigsaw puzzle like continents that make up the world. Like many others he realised that Africa and SOUTH USA seem to fit perfectly together and that there will need to have been a way for one types of fossil found in one country and another when the animal possessed a land locked form and the countries weren't linked.

His expeditions to Greenland (his most beloved country to go to), led him to find 'the discrepancies between the longitudinal calculations of his party and early on ones from 1823 and 1870' this became an important part of data later on to prove that this particular continent has migrated between your years therefore there has to be research to suggest others have too. He later composed a book/paper called "the origin of continents and continental drift", which was dismissed and mocked credited to him being 'meddling out of his field of knowledge' and his nationality as the Great War only finished to years earlier. None of the scientist wished to think that continents drifted and were once united as one, this was absurd. Wegener used many forms of evidence to returning his ideas sup like the shared precious stone mines between Brazil and Africa, even though they aren't linked, but the scientists refused to return on what they believed in.

Harry Hess:


Harry Hess



D. o. B:

May 24, 1906

D. o. D:

August 25, 1969



Brief perception:

Single most significant contribution of the 20thcentury.

Emphasised on the sea-floor growing theory,

One of the "founding fathers" of plate's tectonic theories.

Discovered the great global rift.

Harry Hess was a Canadian navy officer and specialised in geology he produced the initial hypothesis of "the ocean floors were moving 'like conveyor belts, carrying the continents along with them'. In his publication "The annals of ocean basins", he quoted "The sea floor is not long term, but is constantly being renewed. The mid-ocean ridge is indeed a split in the crust. Through it hot materials from the root mantle continually swells up and spreads outwards, new crust is generated at the pace of about one half an inch each year on each side of the ridge. " His theories solved all problems of that time period such as: The high heat flow across the ridge and the breakthrough of conical mountains on the ocean floor. The understanding of sea-floor distributing also helped us to comprehend the theory of plates tectonic and how it operates in comparison to sea floor growing. But because this was only fiction no solid data was produced to returning up all claims of the idea it was taken the same manner as Wegener's thoughtsnowhere, until down the road in the years.

Issues associated with the development of the ideas of catastrophism and uniformitarianism:

Religion vs. information:

Catastrophism only remained in the heads of scientists scheduled the direction where it pointed - Noah's overflow. Religion held an extremely higher level of expert in the 1600's- past due 1900's therefore everything that was discovered had to lead to a biblical justification. It wasn't accepted until around 3 people tried to evolve the theory such as Hutton, Lyell and Darwin who all provided evidence and suggestions and add data together with evidence to prove their thought process and the

Uniformitarianism vs. dynamics:

After uniformitarianism was accepted as the higher of the two theories how the planet earth was produced and continues to be shaping over catastrophism, everyone began to go through the events that were shaping the planet earth and started out to notice that uniformitarianism appeared to be the appropriate theory. However because so many scientists and everyone think that uniformitarianism is the reason why for how the earth is exactly what they're not realising is the fact that catastrophism is also participating in a component in forming the planet earth as well by natural disasters from violent volcano eruptions to tsunamis. These illustrations could happen at any given time rather than much warning is given before hand of what is going to happen, therefore it could become a catastrophic occurrence that could shape what sort of globe is. So catastrophism do not need to be neglected.

Catastrophism vs. research:

It is advised that the reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs was anticipated to a significant meteorite impact which brought on huge devastation for the planet earth and another theory is that they gone extinct because of the great biblical flood, this theory is only on the basis on the actual Bible says about the fantastic flood, but in actual fact there is no evidence which implies the dinosaurs drowned, just the word of the bible. The trouble with catastrophism is that most the theories made-up regarding it don't show sufficient research to suggest it does happen besides the few instances of volcanoes erupting violently and changing the earth.


In summary to my statement I support the idea of uniformitarianism because the evidence that backs it up is clear and concise and it comes with an response to every problem e. g. how plates tectonic move and how volcanoes and mountains are created. But we shouldn't ignore that catastrophism still works with techniques when volcanoes and mountains and produced all of the sudden by earthquakes and tsunamis which change the earth.

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