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19th century Geology — the cart before the horse

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It is an interesting aspect of the history of geology that in the 19th century scientists made significant leaps in geologic mapping and stratigraphy, but it took until the second half of the 20th century for the scientific community to accept the theory of plate tectonics and provide a unifying paradigm for so many aspects of the field of geology, from how earthquakes, mountains, and oceans are formed to the composition of the Earth.

Take the diagrams in this 1872 presentation of the Earth’s stratigraphic history, which are not that far off from ones that would be made today. It’s like if meteorologists were as accurate with forecasts as they are today, but they still believed that Zeus created the weather!