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Time Matters


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Table of Contents

Preface. Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1 Geological time. 1.1 Introduction. 1.2 The historical perspective. 1.2.1 The march of the scientists. 1.2.2 The atomic age. 1.3 Geological time and the age of Mother Earth. 2 Dating rocks. 2.1 Introduction. 2.2 The nature of stratigraphy and the principles of relative dating. 2.3 Biostratigraphy. 2.4 Radiometric dating. 2.4.1 Potassium. 2.4.2 Rubidium. 2.4.3 Uranium. 2.4.4 Carbon. 2.4.5 Mass spectrometer. 2.5 Dating by fi ssion tracks. 2.6 Magnetism. 2.6.1 Thermal remnant magnetism. 2.6.2 Depositional remnant magnetism. 2.6.3 Palaeo-magnetism and Polar wandering. 3 The origins of the geological time scale. 3.1 Introduction. 3.2 Jurassic. 3.3 Carboniferous. 3.4 Triassic. 3.5 Tertiary. 3.6 Cambrian. 3.7 Silurian. 3.8 Devonian. 3.9 Permian. 3.10 Mississippian. 3.11 Quaternary. 3.12 Ordovician. 3.13 Cretaceous. 3.14 Pennsylvanian. 3.15 Proterozoic. 3.16 Archean and Hadean. 4 Plutonism versus Neptunism. 4.1 Introduction. 4.2 Neptunism. 4.3 Plutonism. 5 Uniformitarianism versus Catastrophism. 5.1 Introduction. 5.2 Catastrophism. 5.3 Diluvialism. 5.4 Uniformitarianism. 5.5 Mass extinctions. 5.6 Alternating warm and cold conditions. 5.7 Catastrophes and the nature of science. 5.8 Palaeogeography and Earth history. 6 Evolution. 6.1 Introduction. 6.2 Darwin and evolution. 6.3 Punctuated equilibrium and geographic speciation. 6.4 Intermediates - what are we looking for? 7 Evolution versus Creationism. 7.1 Introduction. 7.2 Fossils. 7.2.1 The Medieval view. 7.2.2 The 17th- and 18th-century view. 7.2.3 The 19th-century view. 7.2.4 Mantell versus Owen. 7.3 Famous Evolution versus Creation debates. 7.3.1 Huxley versus Wilberforce. 7.3.2 Huxley versus Gladstone. 7.3.3 The abolition of the equal time laws in America. 7.3.4 The nature of life and science, and Evolution versus Creationism. 7.4 Lagerstatten. 8 Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics. 8.1 Introduction. 8.2 Mountain building. 8.3 Isostasy. 8.4 Continental Drift. 8.5 Plate Tectonics. 9 What have we learnt? Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

Mike Leddra worked as a cartographer before gaining a degree in geology and geography from King?s College, University of London, and a PhD in geology from University College, University of London. In 1993, he became a Senior Lecturer in Engineering and Environmental Geology at the University of Sunderland, where he also qualified as a secondary school geography teacher. He now runs his own education consultancy, Forefront Teaching Resources Ltd.


"This book is written for the general reader, so technical terms and the detailed science behind some of the controversies is pushed to the background whilst some of the more human aspects come to the fore. I liked the style and the format of this book which will provide readers with a great insight into the development of our science and the concepts it has brought to the world." (Down to Earth, 1 November 2011) "I thoroughly recommend the paperback version of the book to colleagues and students alike - you will not be disappointed." (Geoscientist, 1 March 2011) "Recommended. Lower-and upper-division undergraduates and general readers". (Choice, 1 November 2010) "Takes the reader through a comprehensive synopsis of the topic; through rock dating and time scales, plutonism and neptunism, uniformitarianism and catastrophism, evolution and creationism, and onto continental drift and plate tectonics. Each concept, set into its own historical timescale, details the development and discoveries that have shaped our understanding of geological time, by the people most notably ideal introduction to the topic most central to any study of the earth sciences." Pete Loader (Teaching Earth Sciences Vol 36 No 1 2011)

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