Copyright

James Hutton: Theory of the Earth & Evolution

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Mesosaurus: Fossils & Facts

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 James Hutton's Theory
  • 0:59 Rock Cycle
  • 2:09 Evolution
  • 2:32 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeff Fennell

Jeff has a master's in engineering and has taught Earth science both domestically and internationally.

James Hutton is often described as the 'Father of Geology.' This lesson will cover his discoveries and theories. After the lesson, there will be a quiz to test your knowledge.

James Hutton's Theory

James Hutton, who lived from 1726 to 1797, was a Scottish geologist, chemical manufacturer, and agriculturalist. He is commonly referred to as the founder of modern geology.

The prevailing theory of Hutton's time was that all the rocks on Earth were formed from sediments during a great flood. Hutton theorized that a continuing process formed and destroyed the rocks and soils of earth and that the process was an endless loop. Speaking about the natural history of the earth, Hutton was quoted saying in 1788, 'we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.'

In 1785 the Royal Society of Edinburgh Bulletin Volume published its famous dissertation 'The Earth theory, or on terrestrial composition, disintegration and restoration of law.' In it, Hutton famously described Earth as a living organism. His work would be influential for centuries, even inspiring Charles Darwin during his writings on evolution.

Rock Cycle

Hutton demonstrated that granite, which makes up the bulk of the continents, was igneous rock. Igneous rocks could form at any time when slowly cooled. Hutton's paper also described sedimentation as the weathering of rocks by a variety of external forces, such as wind, water, and ice. These sediments are then brought to the ocean by rivers and deposited on the seabed. Over time, the lake bed and seabed sediments are uplifted and once again subjected to weathering, continuing the never-ending process.

Hutton also demonstrated that unconformities, missing layers of the geologic record, in sedimentary layers are ancient erosion surfaces. Hutton theorized that a set of rocks separated by an unconformity must have formed by the deposition of the first layers, followed by the uplift and erosion of those layers, and further followed by deposition of a second set of layers.

Geologic uncomformity
uncomformity

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support