Edinburgh: J. Dickson, 1788.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #002506
In: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. 1 (1788), pp. 210-304 , including 2 engraved plates and extra leaf of plate explanation bound after. Edinburgh: J. Dickson, 1788. 4to (265 x 210 mm). Entire volume: xii, 100, 1-304  305-336, 1-209  pp., general title with engraved vignette, final errata leaf and 4 engraved plates. Text only very little browned, occasonal slight foxing (mainly to first leaves, the Hutton paper only little affected). Contemporary tree calf, gilt red morocco spine label (hinges repaired, 1 morocco label renewed, extremities rubbed). [Joined]: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. 2 (1790), viii, , 80, 244, 267  pp., 1 folding letterpress table and 9 engraved plates (7 folding); Vol. 3 (1794), vii , 148, 279 , 162  pp., 22 engraved plate (14 folding); and Vol. 4 (1798), vii , 39 , 87 , 222, 121  pp., 12 engraved plates (7 folding). All uniformly bound in fine tree calf with gilt-lettered red morocco labels and blue-sprinkled edges. With errata leaf to each volume, but bound without general half titles. Very little browning to text, occasional minor foxing. Provenance: James Whatman (armorial bookplate to front pastedowns); The library of Hugh Selbourne (small ink stamp to titles verso and p.51). A fine set in uniform contemporary binding, printed on strong paper. Completely unrestored, unstained and unmarked. ----
Dibner 93; Sparrow 107; Norman 1130 (offprint); PMM 247 (note); ESTC T145935, T145936, T145937, T153067; Challinor 40; Ward & Carozzi 1161. - FIRST PUBLICATION OF HUTTON'S FAMOUS PAPER NOW REGARDED AS THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN GEOLOGY. Hutton's paper was expanded into a three-volume work, Theory of the Earth in 1795, published shortly before his death.
His fundamental conception - now accepted as a matter of course, but then entirely new - was the doctrine of uniformitarianism. The formation of the surface of the earth is one continuous process which can be studied entirely from terrestrial materials without cosmological or supernatural intervention (PMM).
The paper is divided into four parts: the first demonstrates that the Earth is a unique creation by a divine Creator consisting of core, water, crust and air, all of which in turn are governed by basic powers such as centrifugal forces, light, heat, cold and condensation, all of which keep the Earth in balance; part II deals with the consolidation of strata, refuting the theory of aqueous solution and crystallization, substituting heat and fusion as the relevant processes; the third part investigates land production above sea level, demonstrating subterranean heat is universal and sufficient to achieve uplift; and finally, Hutton rejects catastrophism, and embraces a uniformitarian view whereby processes observable in the present have always been at work in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. "It firmly established the conception of the geological cycle and insisted on the length of geological time." (Challinor p.69).
A few other important papers by Hutton are contained in the other volumes of the Transactions. One of the more important is his 'Observations on granite' (presented to members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and published in vol. III of the Transactions in 1794), in which he shares his views on the origin of igneous rocks. "During his field work, Hutton was able to find unequivocal evidence to show that molten granite had invaded the surrounding stratified rock, that is to say it was intrusive igneous rock of younger age than the country rocks. This represents the first demonstration of the class of rocks that we now refer to as intrusive igneous rocks" (M. Brown & P. M. Piccoli, The Origin of Granites and related Rocks, Abstracts Third Hutton Symposium, 1995, p. 1).
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