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About this book
Reveals the logical framework of geology, shows relations of the science to the totality of human knowledge, and gives some idea of what it is to be a participant in the discipline. The authors stress what assumptions are made by earth historians, what kinds of evidence, and what processes of reasoning and limitations of hypotheses are involved in reconstructing and interpreting the past. The use of dioramas and reconstructions of extinct animals and plants has been greatly expanded, so that students can get a more vivid concept of typical life in any part of the geologic past. The areas of hottest controversy, such as mass extinctions, dinosaur endothermy, the origin of life, and controversies over late Proterozoic tectonics and glaciation, have been given separate sections so that students can appreciate the different sides of the debates.
Time and terrestrial change; floods, fossils and heresies - "no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end"; evolution; the relative geological time-scale and modern concepts of stratigraphy; the numerical dating of the earth; origin and early evolution of the earth; mountain building and drifting continents; cryptozoic history - an introduction to the origin of continental crust; early life and its patterns; earliest Paleozoic history - the Sauk sequence/an introduction to cratons and epeiric seas; the later Ordovician - further studies of plate tectonics of orogenic belts; the middle Paleozoic - time of reefs, salts and forests; late Paleozoic history - a tectonic climax and retreat of the sea; the Mesozoic era - age of reptiles and supercontinent break-up; Cenozoic history - threshold of the present; Pleistocene glaciation and the advent of humans; the best of all possible worlds? Appendices: The classification and relationships of life; English equivalents of metric measures.