Marine geology is a young offshoot of geology, a branch of science which begins with James Hutton (1726–1797) and his Theory of the Earth (Edinburgh, 1795). Among other things, Hutton studied marine rocks on land. Changes of sea level (“encroachment of the ocean”, and “the placing of materials accumulated at the bottom of the sea in the atmosphere above the surface of the sea”) was a central tenet of his “Theory”. Thus, the question of what happens at the bottom of the sea was raised at the beginning of systematic geologic investigation. This question had to be attacked if the marine deposits on land were to be understood. Hutton was not alone in these concerns. A few years before the Theory of the Earth appeared, the great chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) distinguished two kinds of marine sedimentary layers, that is, those formed in the open sea at great depth, which he called pelagic beds, and those formed along the coast, which he termed littoral beds. “Great depth” for Lavoisier was everything beyond wave base. Lavoisier supposed that sediment particles would settle quietly in deep water and reworking would be much less in evidence here than near the shore.
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Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Eugen Seibold
Ph.D. Prof. Wolfgang H. Berger
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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