James Hutton, born in 1726, is considered to be the father of modern geology.
Before his groundbreaking work, prevailing theories about the age of the Earth were more religious than scientific.
Hutton challenged biblical notions that the Earth was only a few thousand years old, instead arguing that for the nature of rock formations to be explained, our planet had to be far more ancient.
He proposed that the core of our planet is hot, and that this energy drives changes at the surface.
This was in stark contrast to the beliefs of the time, which held that all rocks were deposited by the oceans.
Hutton's initial inspiration came from a walk on Edinburgh's Salisbury Crags.
In an area now known as Hutton's Section, he saw evidence that the rock formation had come about by the injection of molten magma into older, sedimentary rock.
His findings were published in 1788 in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, entitled "Theory of the Earth; or an Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe".
Hutton's plaque is at the main entrance of the Grant Institute.
In honour of JAMES HUTTON
1736 - 1797
Geologist, chemist, naturalist, father of modern geology, alumnus of the University
This article was published on Jul 14, 2008