Geology

Article

July 5, 2022

Geology is a natural science that examines the material composition of the Earth and its formation. A related science is planetology, which applies the methods of geology to other solid celestial bodies. The three main branches of geology: geology, geochemistry, geophysics.

Research methods and guidelines

Geological research is basically inductive - by this we mean that it first divides the phenomena into parts, examines the individual sub-phenomena separately, and then combines the partial results to create a synthesis. Among the three main method groups of scientific investigation, the empirical approach dominates in earth science, i.e. it establishes its theories based on the observation of phenomena and their consequences; he usually infers the causes from the observed consequences. The role of the experimental approach becomes fundamental only in some narrow sub-sciences (such as rock mechanics and microtectonics, some branches of petrology that study the formation of deep rocks, some sub-fields of geophysics, etc.). The theoretical (theoretical) approach was completely speculative for a long time, and this period cannot even be considered earth science in the modern sense of science. Since the second half of the 20th century, since we have been able to verify more and more ideas with computer models, the importance of theoretical methods has been increasing. His basic research guideline is actualism, i.e. modernity: the essence of this is that, from the results and products of today's processes, he concludes that similar products from ancient times could have been created by such processes. That is why the transition between so-called current geology, which examines such phenomena, and natural geography is continuous, and no sharp boundary can be drawn between them (according to some opinions, all current geology is actually natural geography). Similarly, the boundary between paleontology, which examines ancient living organisms (paleontology, or zoology in general), and biology, the science of living organisms today, is also blurred.

Formation, development

The first comprehensive metallurgical and mining manual was compiled by Georgius Agricola. Therefore, Agricola is generally regarded as the founder of mining and earth sciences, clearly indicating that in the 16th century, earth science was still mostly a preparation for mining. Since the subject of geology is, in most cases, very distant from us in time and/or space, cannot be studied directly, and is a process too slow for the human observer, the development of this science was characterized by clashes of drastically opposing ideas. These debates lasted for generations or centuries, and some of them, such as the question of catastrophism or actualism, have not yet been clarified in sufficient detail. Catastrophism or actualism? At first, the development of the Earth was mainly traced back to one-time, large events (such as the flood) - this idea is catastrophism. The first independent laws of geology, the so-called laws of settlement, were formulated by the Danish physicist Nicolaus Steno (1638–1686), who pointed out that the Earth's past can be inferred from the layers of sedimentary rocks. Scottish naturalist James Hutton (1726–1797) is often called the "father" of geology. He formulated the principle of uniformitarianism, stating that the same processes always produce the same rocks. In the 1790s, William Smith (1769–1839) recognized that the superimposed layers differ not only in their physical and chemical properties, but also in their fossils. He realized that based on their characteristic fossils, they settled very far from each other