Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thanks Mr. Steno

We are studying those past men who were "rock readers" and contributed to the field of geology and our understanding of rock materials and processes. Niels Stensen (1638-1687) was actually a Danish physician that lived in Italy. Niels decided to Latinize his name to Nicolaus Steno but no matter what you call him, he was a rock hound oh - I mean he was a "silicis hound" (sorry no Latin word  for a hound found). He worked for a healthy Grand Duke which translates to he had a lot of time on his hands - lucky guy! His contribution to geology was the principles of superposition, original lateral continuity, and original horizontality.The principle of original horizontality is shown in this picture I took in Alberta, Canada. The principle tells us that tilted strata was once horizontal but that something (maybe magma chambers below) uplifted the crust. Why is this important? It helps a geologist to determine the chronological order of the rocks and Earth  materials they are studying. For example in this picture we know that something disturbed these layers after they were created. But in this photo below the layers are still horizontal. I love this photo I took in Sedona, Arizona, can you see the layers? If we look at the principle of superposition - what we see are the newer layers are on top of older layers since they are undisturbed other than some obvious weathering and erosion.

Hope you learned something...if you did then you too can thank Mr. Steno! In closing this blog I leave you with this come women didn't like rocks until the twentieth century? I can't find any women geologists in this period of history but that's okay because the women "silicis hounds" today will be making history for the future generations to come. So ladies...rock on!

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