A common historical myth is that Victorian geology was torn between religious traditionalists and secular geologists. In fact long before the Victorian period all accredited geologists (with very few exceptions) agreed that the earth was millions of years old, that strata were layers from different times and the Book of Genesis was either not incompatible with the findings of modern geology or irrelevant to them. For many Victorians geology was the most exciting science. It was new (the Geological Society of London was founded in 1807), its sometime controversial findings were well-attested and respected, and it had a wide amateur following. Geology made obvious the vast age of the earth and the apparent succession of living forms that had inhabited it. Much of Victorian science centred on stratigraphy, mineralogy and palaeontology. The Geological Survey of Great Britain (1835; offsite) was the largest professional scientific organization maintained by Victorian governments. — John van Wyhe

Important figures in nineteenth-century geology


Last modified 27 April 2015