On this day in Edinburgh 286 years ago…

…James Hutton, the father of modern geology and the understanding of deep time, was born.

James Hutton (1726-1797), part of a painting by Sir Henry Raeburn.

Without his sharp observations on the geology around the Edinburgh area and the Scottish Highlands, we might never have learned that Earth was vastly older than previously thought. In 2005 a group of students from Lund University and I were graciously guided around the fantastic geology around Edinburgh by Professor Euan Clarkson, who told us many stories about the life and times of James Hutton. A truly wonderful excursion! 🙂

Hutton’s unconformity at Siccar Point (Photo by Sofie Lindström 2005).

 One of the localities was Siccar Point with “Hutton’s unconformity”, where Devonian Old Red Sandstone (345 million years old) overlie Silurian greywackes (425 million years old) with an angular unconformity (see above), which we visited during a rather grey day with very strong winds that almost blew us off the cliff.

My three then students and our gracious guide visiting Siccar Point in 2005 (copyright Sofie Lindström).

Happy Birthday James Hutton!


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