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The Scientific Character of Geology Author(s): R. W. van Bemmelen Source: The Journal of Geology,

The Scientific Character of Geology Author(s): R. W. van Bemmelen Source: The Journal of Geology, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Jul., 1961), pp. 453-463 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30058272

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GEOLOGICAL NOTES

THE SCIENTIFIC CHARACTER OF GEOLOGYL

R. W. VAN BEMMELEN2

Wer als Geologe lange Jahre mit der Natur allein und intim verkehrt, findet sich immer hijufiger und deutlicher in eine Zwiesprache versetzt, bei welcher sich der andere stets als der Gescheitere herausstellt.-H. CLOOs,Einfiihrung in die Geologie, 1936, p. 2.

ABSTRACT

In this paper the scientific character of geology is discussed by analyzing the very nature of the interroga- tion of the earth by the geologist.

chemistry, and biology in that the possibilities for experiment are limited.

Geology differs from physics,

As geology is essentially a historical science, the working method of the geologist resembles that of the his-

torian. This makes the personality of the geologist of essential importance in the way he analyzes the past. This subjective element in geologic studies accounts for two characteristic types that can be distinguished among geologists: one considering geology as a creative art, the other regarding geology as an exact science. Next, the nature of the earth, object of geological studies, is considered. The increasing number of factors playing a role in the various complexes of natural phenomena are the origin of new, so-called emergent, laws and characteristics. Based on this principle of emergence, a hierarchy of sciences can be distinguished: phys- ics-chemistry-geology-biology-psychology. The geologist applies a certain number of general views and concepts which are the rules for his scientific practice. Such premises, however, are less fixed than the natural laws postulated by the basic sciences of physics and chemistry. The geologist is therefore forced to test the validity of the greatest possible number

of presuppositions (method of multiple

the method of "comparative ontology" are examples of geo-

working hypotheses).

The principle of "uniformitarianism" and

logic rules. The relations between geology and its sister sciences are shown in figure 2. Finally, the tremendous possibilities of future expansion of geology are indicated.

INTRODUCTION

The working methods of geological sci- ence may be dealt with in several ways. It can be approached from a historical point of view by giving a general review of the de- velopment of geological concepts and theo- ries. We might consider, for instance, the way in which ideas concerning concrete sub-

jects,

evolved during the course of time. The his- torical revolution of these concepts is a col-

lective study by scientists throughout the years, in which new theories were mere de- velopments of preceding theories with some added observations. Glangeaud (1949) has termed this procedure "dialectique col- lective." From a historical point of view a change

such

as

granite

or

basalt,

have

1Manuscript received July 7, 1960.

2 Mineralogical Geological Institute of the State

Utrecht, Netherlands.

University, Oude Gracht 320,

may be noted in the way science has been practiced. In the heroic period after the

Renaissance,

by

were far ahead of their contemporaries. To- day the tendency may be perceived to co- operate, to aim the collective efforts of a team at a common goal. For instance, the Atomic Energy Commission in the United States, the research laboratories of the big industries, the scientific congresses with a

central theme of discussion,

We could equally well consider the tech- nical development of the means of research. For instance, the introduction of the polari- zation microscope had an enormous bearing on geology, for it enabled the study of the mineralogical composition and internal structure of seemingly opaque rocks. The modern computing machines and electronic devices will certainly promote the develop- ment of geophysical sciences.

science was mainly developed

of brilliant

individuals

who

a number

etc.

453

454

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

However, in this paper we will not discuss

further these aspects of geology. We want to focus the attention on the methodology of

the

ologist.

of the earth by the ge-

interrogation

WHATIS SCIENTIFICRESEARCH?

Geology

is part

of that

remarkable

dy-

namic process of the human mind which is generally called science and to which man is driven by an inquisitive urge. By noticing re- lationships in the results of his observations, he attempts to order and to explain the in-

finite variety of phenomena that at first sight may appear to be chaotic. In the his- tory of civilization this type of progressive scientist has been characterized by Prome- theus stealing the heavenly fire, by Adam eating from the tree of knowledge, by the Faustian ache for wisdom.

who is thus driven by the

powerful urge to know how nature works

may well leave the questions

The scientist

of ultimate

reality and truth to philosophers and theo- logians. The scientist studies the phenome- na perceptible by his senses. He just searches for any relationships between phe- nomena. His experiences are his intimate knowledge which his mind tries to transform into symbolic knowledge, either that of lan- guage or that of mathematical formulas (Sir A. Eddington, 1929). If the supposed re- lationship is sufficiently confirmed by re- peated observations, his striving is rightly satisfied (to a certain degree). It is then pos- sible to talk in terms of statistical probabili- ties or the correctness of the acquired knowl- edge. In other words, an empirical law or rule of nature is discovered. For the younger scientists the word "sci- ence" generally has become a synonym for organized human knowledge. A by-product of the free pursuit of science is an insight as to the optimal possible ac- tions concerning certain objectives, either short-term political and economical actions or the long-term realization of certain ideals. This means the distinction between applied science and pure science or, similarly, ap-

plied geology and pure geology.

Exact science in its accepted sense is a family of specialized natural sciences, each one of them a study of different aspects by means of somewhat different working meth- ods. Mathematics in its pure sense would not enter into this frame, as its object of study is not nature itself; independent of all observations of the outside world, it at- tempts to build logical systems based on axioms. In other words, it formulates the language of mathematical symbols and equations which may be applied to the functional relations found in nature. This "mathematization" by applied mathematics is most advanced in physics, which is en- gaged in general laws of matter and energy on subatomic, atomic, and molecular levels. Chemistry builds further on the physical laws and studies the structural bonds be- tween the elements of matter. Both physicist and chemist are in a posi- tion to experiment with the objects of their studies. They are able to carry out con- trolled observations to verify the supposed functional relations. During these experi- ments, interfering influences are excluded as far as possible. In this way an artificial en- vironment-an isolated or "closed" system -is created, in which the significance of the individual components can be watched and possibly even measured. Therefore the studied objects of these sciences lend them- selves to quantitative description.

GENERAL SCIENTIFICMETHOD

The arrangement of observed phenomena into a system of relations, that is, into a hy- pothesis, postulate, or even a theory made to suit these observations, is a mental process called "induction." The functional validity of a working hypothesis is not a priori cer- tain, because often it is initially based on intuition. However, logical deductions from

(so-

such a hypothesis

provide expectations

called prognoses) as to the circumstances under which certain phenomena will appear in nature. Such a postulate or working hy- pothesis can then be substantiated by addi- tional observations or by experiments espe- cially arranged to test details. The value of

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

455

the hypothesis is strengthened if the ob- served facts fit the expectation within the

limits of permissible error. The author calls such expectations and additional observa- tions the prognosis-diagnosis method of re- search (1952). Prognosis in science may be termed the prediction of the future finding of corroborative evidence of certain features

or phenomena

This method of scientific research builds up and extends the relations between the subject and the object by means of a circuit of inductions and deductions. A short cut on this circuit is the grouping and classifica- tion of the available observations according to some preconceived ideas, in order to find "empiric rules" (fig. 1). There is, however, no universal recipe for scientific advance. It is a matter of groping forward into terra incognita of the outer

(diagnostic facts).

world by means of methods which should be adapted to the circumstances, such as the

variations in approaches and situations of the research workers. Natural laws and fundamental results of scientific research are of primary importance for both the economy and versatility of our mode of thinking. Large complexes of phe- nomena are thus reduced to more concise

laws of interdependence.

vious that not a single natural law can have an unlimited validity. Extrapolations of the governing factors may transgress the limits of applicability, and there may be deviations

due to the statistical probability.

However, it is ob-

SPECIFIC CHARACTEROF GEOLOGY

Experiments in geology are far more diffi- cult than in physics and chemistry because of the greater size of the objects, commonly

Object

or

Outer World

Subject

or

Inner World

FIG. 1.-The

circuits of scientific research (according to J. F. Schouten, in Bottema et al., 1960) with

some alterations by the present author.

456

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

outside our laboratories, up to the earth itself, and also because of the fact that the geologic time scale exceeds the human time scale by a million and more times (Hubbert,

1937).

This difference in time allows only direct observations of the actual geologic proc- esses, the mind having to imagine what could possibly have happened in the past. This mental picture is by sheer necessity a very simplified image of the processes in na-

ture. Evidently it is not necessary that these processes happened fully in the same way and intensity as we imagined. Nor by such

mental experiments

be duplicated by laboratory experiments, though the latter certainly have a stimulat- ing effect on our imagination (Kuenen,

can the ancient events

1958).

Moreover, it should be kept in mind that the natural geologic processes are in reality "open systems," susceptible to various ex- ternal influences, in contradistinction to the closed systems of our physical and chemical

experiments. The kind of factors, their mag- nitude, and the succession in which they

were active have varied from place to place and from time to time. Therefore laboratory experiments with scale models and a definite set of factors have only a restricted value in geology. The latter has to apply other meth- ods of investigation (Haarmann, 1935). The essentially historical character of geology is obvious from the need of interpre- tation of still observable traces of events that once happened in or on the earth. Since geological thinking tries to mold the past into a distinct mental picture, an element of subjectivity is introduced (Pannekoek,

of incomplete rec-

ords on which the interpretation of former happenings must be based is as well known in geology as in the study of human history. The geological archives of stone are incom-

plete, and much information has been wiped out by later events.

1956). The disadvantage

Moreover,

it is often difficult, sometimes

impossible, to verify the observations of other geologists because of the inaccessibili- ty of the area or of many outcrops (e.g., road

cuts, trenches, mine shafts). This puts the geologic observer at a disadvantage. In collecting the primary geologic data, some personal capacities of the geologist

(such as strong physique, perceptive facul- ties, perseverance, talent for drawing) are generally of much greater importance than in any of the sister sciences, which can rely on the quality of the instruments used in collecting primary data.

The great importance

of the personality

in geology is moreover forcibly required by its being a historical science. As in history, the material in hand remains silent if no

questions are asked. The nature of these questions depends on the "school" to which

the geologist belongs and on the objectivity of his investigations. Hans Cloos (1949) called this way of in-

terrogation

"das Gespraich mit der Erde." It is obvious that in this "conversation" the character of the subject may easily assume an impor- tance equal to that of the nature of the ob-

ject, which is the earth.

"the dialogue

with

the earth,"

ROLEOFTHESUBJECTIVEINTERROGATOR,

THE

GEOLOGIST

Two types of scientists are distinguished by Wright (1958): (1) The neat and active scientific investigator who strives for classi- fication of his objects and who wants to force the rigid discipline of certain schemes upon his object of study, and (2) another type, less neat, less enforcing in schematiz-

but more re-

ing the objects ceptive.

dis-

tinguished classicists and romanticists among the scientific investigators: the for- mer being inclined to design schemes and to use consistently the deductions from work- ing hypotheses; the latter being more fit for intuitive discoveries of functional relations between phenomena and therefore more able to open up new fields of study.3 Examples of

of his study,

ago Oswald

Half

a century

(1910)

be that many "romanticists" possess

the so-called "harmonic" temperaments often found in blood group A people, while the "classicists" would have the "rhythmic" temperaments of those

3 It may

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

457

both character types are Werner and Hut- ton (Wegmann, 1958). Werner was a real classicist. At the end of the eighteenth cen- tury he postulated the theory of "neptun- ism," according to which all rocks including granites, were deposited in primeval seas. It was an artificial scheme, but, as a classi- fication system, it worked quite satisfactori- ly at the time. Hutton, his contemporary and opponent, was more a romanticist. His concept of "plutonism" supposed continu- ally recurrent circuits of matter, which like gigantic paddle wheels raise material from various depths of the earth and carry it off again. This is a very flexible system which opens the mind to accept the possible oc-

currence in the course of time of a great vari-

ety

of

interrelated

plutonic

and

tectonic

processes. According to the views of Comte, stated about one and one-half centuries ago, there is a trend, headed by the active and sys- tematic, the classicist type of scientists, to consider physics and chemistry as the only true natural sciences, for example, the only sciences in which most relations can be ex- pressed mathematically and in which the magnitude of the variable and constant fac- tors can be measured. Many in this group may compare geologists and biologists to barbaric stone-age scientists, who, more or less hopefully, struggle along to reach the remote but ultimate goal of total "quanti- fication" and "mathematization." By such

classicists the latter are only accepted out of courtesy in the exclusive circle of the exact natural sciences (Wright, 1958).

go

too far in the direction toward "robot-geolo-

gy"; geology until recently was considered to be "an inexact science and an art" (Link, 1954, p. 2411).

by

Leet and Judson, who say in their textbook

But many

geologists

still hesitate

to

A different view

has been advanced

belongingto bloodgroupB. This most interesting statistic correlationbetween characterand blood grouphas been derivedfrom the investigationsby L. Bourdeland J. Genevay,recentlypublishedin

their book Groupessanguins et temperaments(Paris,

Ed. Maloine,1960).

(1954) that "originally geology was essen- tially descriptive, a branch of natural sci- ence. By the middle of the 20th century however, it had developed into a fully fledged physical science, making liberal use of chemistry, physics, and mathematics." Let us look for a synthesis of these appar- ently divergent views. Much of the practice of geology is a visionary art indeed, since a

creative, but scientifically controlled, imagi- nation is required (Goguel, 1951). By means

of creative imagination

design a number of possible reconstructions of the past events. Some of these have to be

rejected again if tentative predictions ap- pear to be contradictory to the subsequently acquired facts. But geology is an exact science too. Many

factors

measured and grouped in "correlation structures," aspects of which can be treated

mathematically. There are three types of correlation struc- tures (Melton, 1958):

a) a type with causal relations in which certain forces have a subduing effect upon others (cycles of negative feedback);

b) a type in which the causal relations have an amplifying effect (cycles with positive feedbacks);

c) a type in which no functional relations be- tween the coinciding phenomena can be dis- cerned.

the geologist has to

of

geological

phenomena

can

be

The classicists and the romanticists

among the geologists should co-operative by

in a "team" of partners to in-

participating

vestigate the earth. In this way it will be possible to reach some synthesis between the

two afore-mentioned views, namely, geology

is a creative art versus geology science.

is an exact

ROLE OF THE OBJECT OF STUDY,

THE EARTH

After considering

the subjective

aspects

of the geological investigations,

direct our attention more to the influence of the object, the earth, on the procedure of investigation.

we will now

458

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

PLACE

OF

GEOLOGY

AMONG

THE

SISTER

SCIENCES

The very nature of the earth determines the place of geology among the sister sci-

ences. As has been pointed out earlier, phys- ics and chemistry are typical basic sciences, which to a certain extent work with abstrac- tions, that is, isolated reactions between pure matter inside of closed systems.

the

During

billions

of years,

however,

earth has been an "open system" amid a cosmic environment. In this environment matter reacted upon matter in an infinite number of combinations in such a way that ultimately new possibilities and new factors originated, so-called "emergent phenome- na." The latter cannot straight away be ex- plained by the natural laws of the basic sciences. An example of such emergent phenomena is the origin of life from non-living chemical compounds in the oldest, lifeless oceans of the earth. Here, aided by the radiation ener- gy received from the sun, countless chemical materials were synthesized and accumulated in such a way that they constituted, as it were, a primeval "soup." In this primeval soup, by infinite variations of lifeless growth and decay of substances during some billions of years, the way of life was ultimately reached, with its metabolism characterized by selective assimilation and dissimilation as end stations of a sluiced and canalized flow

of free chemical energy. If one accepts such emergent phenomena with their new possibilities, one sees that the natural sciences tend to possess a certain type of hierarchy in which the rules and laws of the simpler stages are also valid for the higher organized ones, but not vice versa. Physical metabolism of the self-reproducing evolving life, for instance, has certain defi- nite characteristics which make the proc- esses of life differ from test-tube reactions. Psychological processes which are active in the human body give rise to emergent phenomena with regard to the physiological processes on which they are based. On the other hand, the emergent prin- ciples of psychology and physiology should

not be applied to geological processes which are on a lower level in the hierarchy of cos- mic evolution. It is quite common in geological jargon to use biological, medical, and even psycho- logical terms, and it would definitely be an impoverishment of geological professional speech if the usage of these terms were abol- ished. But confusion and misunderstanding are sometimes introduced in this way. By adapting terms from other sciences, a close watch should be kept on ensuring that analogies are not extended beyond scientifi- cally permissible limits. "Mother magmas" with a "monophyletic descent" of igneous rocks, "consanguine" magma provinces, and

the like, are geological concepts for which the emergent principles of biological relation- ship and heredity are not valid. Crystals and rocks do originate, grow, and disinte- grate. The liberated elements are then again available for the growth of other materials. This geochemical complex of phenomena on the geologic level holds also for living or- ganisms, their growth and their death. But the geologic level lacks the emergent prin- ciple of heredity in biology. The complex of

phenomena

on the geologic level

of evolu-

tion does not rise above

work of geochemical cycles in countless forms and dimensions, as was already con- ceived by Hutton. Whereas the geologists have to be careful of anthropomorphism, the biologists and psychologists must beware of mechano- morphism ("robotism"). Psychic events cannot be studied by the techniques used in the investigation of material objects; there-

fore new methods of research have to be de- vised to study its emergent aspects. Never- theless, psychology nowadays has to be ad- mitted to the rank of science (Walker, 1944,

p. 75).

It appears that there is a kind of cosmic evolution with emergent states of organiza- tion, a cosmic "anamorphism" (see Van Bemmelen, 1948, fig. 1). At the base is the galactic evolution studied by mathematical physics. Then follow in succession, at de- scending levels of energy but at higher and

an extensive

net-

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

459

more complicated levels of organization: the stellar evolution with its nuclear transmuta- tion energy, the planetary evolution with its release of the chemical energy of the elec- tronic shells, the biotic evolution with its sluiced and canalized flow of free chemical energy, and, finally, the psychic energy with its spiritual forces. What will the future bring? Will it bring

still higher states of organization, mic decay-a "katamorphism"? To these questions mankind can give no answers. But the preceding stages of evolution are charac- terized by emergent phenomena, by means of which the following hierarchy of elements of science can be set up: physics-chemistry -geology-biology-psychology.

or a cos-

GEOLOGIC

METHODS

OF RESEARCH

Physics and chemistry provide the natural laws which also hold in geology. Additional

to those, however, the geologist works with

some general concepts

specific rules of the game for his scientific investigations. These concepts, such as the principle of "uniformitarianism," are his guide in the interpretation of the available facts. Because of the higher complexity of the evolution of the earth, our present basic concepts need still more footing and devel- opment than those of physics and chemistry.

A repeated to and fro between induction and

deduction

According to Beloussov (1958), the pro- gressive development of the earth's crust implies the absence of continents in the far past and the absence of mobile geosynclines in the far future. Our earth system of geo- chemical processes is not composed of con- tinuously recurring cycles in which "no ves-

tige of beginning and no prospect of an end" can be discovered, as was said by Hutton. The geological evolution is a part of the gen- eral cosmic evolution which has an orientat- ed course, according to the second main law

of thermodynamics. Therefore the principle

of uniformitarianism generally holds good

for the not too distant past, in the times that

life inhabited our planet

one billion years): but still farther back into

which are the more

is necessary.

(that is, for about

the past the divergence between the then- existing circumstances and the present ones becomes more and more apparent. Because of the great complexity of the processes involved in the earth's evolution,

the geologist has to apply "The Method

Multiple

of

expounded

by the famous American geologist Chamber- lin in 1897. For example, there are at least two work-

the

earth: (1) the so-called cold-earth theory, which says that the earth accumulated from cold cosmic dust and became generally hot- ter by the energy of impact and radioactivi- ty; and (2) the hot-earth theory, which says that it was hotter after its original condensa- tion from cosmic gases and that it has sub-

sequently been cooling. Also, in the case of the cold-earth theory the moon probably originated by meteoric clustering in an orbit around the earth, and the mare as well as the craters on the moon would be the result of terriffic meteoric im- pacts. In the case of the hot-earth theory, how-

ever, the initial stages of the earth's history

will

where

matter

at

fierce

Working Hypotheses"

ing

hypotheses

about

the

origin

of

have

been

characterized

the

by

a

"archeo-volcanism"

balanced

surface,

at the boundary

between

the molten and the gaseous state. The tidal

pull of the sun may have caused the swell- ing-up of huge blisters along the equator. The moon might have been expelled from the side of the earth by the disrupture of such a blister. The latter was then pushed

out by explosive evaporation of its base and left the earth like a huge rocket. According to this hypothesis, at least the maria on the moon are volcanic scars on the side which is facing the earth. At that time the rocket was closed and assumed the form of a sphere by its own gravitational force after having

passed

of

2.4 earth radii (Van Bemmelen,

consequence expected from this hypothesis

is that the side of the moon away from the

earth will be smoother

archeo-volcanic maria. The observations made by the Russian Lunik seem to confirm

the limit of Roche

at a distance

1948). The

and less flooded by

460

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

this prognosis, and this might be in support of the hot-earth-and-moon-rocket hypothe- sis. Though the cold-earth theory is favored by most contemporary scientists, this ex- ample shows the necessity of staying open- minded for other hypotheses, each of which has to be tested for its implications and ex- pectations. As Hans Cloos said, in the dia- logue with the earth, the latter often appears to be the more clever one. Another frequently used method out of the geologists' repertoire of working hy- potheses is the "Method of Comparative Ontology." We pointed out that in the cir- cuit of scientific research, discussed at the beginning of this paper, a promising char- acteristic common to connected observations is chosen as a basis of comparison; the evi- dence is then arranged in some series with that characteristic as a yardstick. We then look for relations with series which use other factors as a measure and may find signifi- cant correlations. From such correlation structures causative influences can be for- mulated in a working hypothesis. For in- stance, because of the slow pace of geological evolution and the complexity of the struc- tures, we now find at the earth's surface next to each other types of rocks and of moun- tain-building which belong to different stages of the evoltionary series. By com- paring their genesis, it is then possible to tell for an individual mountain range in a cer- tain stage of evolution which circumstances might exist in its deeper levels, now inacces- sible to our direct observations. We can also attempt to give a more comprehensive pic- ture of its past and to predict to a certain extent its future evolution. In his synthesis of the geology of Indo- nesia the author (1949) applied this method of comparative ontology in the following form:

It appears that the parallel structural belts, composing the mountain or island-arc systems in that archipelago, are in different stages of evolution. They are increasingly younger as they are situated closer to the convex outer side of the system. Each struc- tural belt passed in the course of time through consecutive stages of structural and

volcanic evolution, which are now represent- ed in succession by the next parallel belts, each next outer one being in the next young-

er stage. The significant correlation between

the structural and igneous evolution,

tained by stratigraphical dating of the com- posing formations, is of great importance for the study of the interaction between tecto- genetic and petrogenetic processes. It en- ables us to visualize the development of a certain belt by studying the geology of the

In this way the

parallel structural zones.

evolution

tems could be reconstructed, and the rela- tions between plutonic and tectonic proc- esses could be assessed. Table 1 gives the relations between the petrogenetic and the orogenetic evolution of the Indonesian undation systems. In this scheme a correla-

tion is given between igneous, topologic, and orogenic stages of their evolution.

base of such series

is formed by the present-day situation and events, the comparative ontology has to be guided by the principle of uniformitarian- ism. The interpretation of the functional re-

lations between the members of these series are retroactive reasonings toward a fixed goal, namely, the present situation (Bakker, 1947). We have to be very careful in choos-

ing an interpretation (i.e., the step of induc- tion toward a working hypothesis) because a choice from an infinite number of possibili- ties has to be made, based on the limited

amount of available knowledge.

The work-

ing hypothesis

correct, although it may seem to explain satisfactorily the observed phenomena. Geologic phenomena and pathological symptoms are similar insofar that both may have various causes. It is the art of the diag-

nosing physician to recognize the disease; in the same way the geologist is not allowed to halt at the apparent. Before a sound inter- pretation is reached, many supplementary investigations and diagnostic observations should be done, perhaps each time starting from a different premise. This is in essence the application of the method of the mul- tiple working hypotheses. The geologist is forced, however, to apply

ascer-

of

the

Indonesian

orogenic

sys-

As the observational

we accept is not necessarily

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

461

the method of comparative ontology as a method of investigation, for the pace of the geologic evolution is so much slower than the human tempo of living. The geologist is generally unable to study the process itself. He can study only the several stages of its results by observing and comparing the rocks and structures as they are exposed today.

RELATIONS OF GEOLOGYWITH ITS FAMILY OF AUXILIARY SCIENCES

The working methods of geology are also determined by its relations to other natural sciences (fig. 2).

to misuse the subcrustal zones as an asylum for the effects which are to be expected ac-

cording to bold geotectonic

hypotheses.

Geochemistry

applies

the

concepts

of

chemistry

to

terrestrial

circumstances,

studying the distribution and circuits of ele- ments in the course of geologic evolution.

The reactions between the electronic shells of the elements causing chemical bonds are the leading emergent principle in our plane- tary evolution as compared with the stellar evolution with its nuclear processes at a much higher energy level (Van Bemmelen, 1948, 1952c). Three more auxiliary sciences of geology

TABLE 1

CORRELATION

PETROGRAPHIC

PROVINCES

Atlantic suite

Ophiolitic suite

Pacific suite

Mediterranian suite.

Plateau basalts

* From

Van Bemmelen,

SCHEME

BETWEEN

IGNEOUS

AND

TECTONIC

STAGES

OF EVOLUTION*

OROGENIC ZONES OF AN UNDATION

SYSTEM

ZONAL

STAGES

OF

OROGENIC EVOLUTION

Foreland

Prefatory faults

Foredeep

Geosynclinal sub-

Geanticline(s)

sidence Orogenic impulse(s)

Backdeep

of uplift Late orogenic sub-

Hinterland

sidence Postorogenic faults

1950,

p. 211.

Prefa-

tory

X

STAGES

OF EVOLUTION

OF THE

UNDATION

SYSTEM

Embry-

onic

Young

Early

Mature

Mature

Formerly, large areas between the several sciences lay fallow, forming, as it were, a no man's land which could be used, or rather misused, to dispose of controversial prob- lems. The present scientific net is much

tighter, leaving less freedom for isolated hy-

of a cer-

potheses ad hoc. The interpretation

tain aspect of nature should eventually form a logical part of a harmoniously co-ordinated

scientific world picture. The history of the earth is inseparately

linked to that of our planetary system, and the gap between astronomy and geology is being filled by cosmogony.

studies are becoming not

only a welcome but more and more a neces-

sary supplement to our geological interpreta- tions of surface surveys. Because of the de-

velopment

by

geophysics, it becomes less and less possible

creasing wealth of information

tools and the in-

Geophysical

of geophysical

collected

are created-paleontology, paleogeography, paleoclimatology-by superimposing the time factor of the order of magnitude of geo- logic evolution on the phenomena studied by biology, geography, and meteorology. Mathematics is indicated as the outer frame of this picture, for it provides the lan- guage of symbols in which the natural events can be described quantitatively and exactly. Inside this frame is the family of sciences auxiliary to geology, the center of the pic- ture being occupied by general and applied geology. This diagram is merely an attempt to il- lustrate the position of geology amid the family of natural sciences. Furthermore, ap- plied geology has many relations with tech- nical, sociological, economical, medical, pharmacological, and other sciences; but these are literally and figuratively on an-

462

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

other level,

and they will not be discussed

here.

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF GEOLOGY

There are three possible methods of ad-

vance in the development mann, 1958).

1. Our current geologic methods and con-

cepts may be extended to new areas of ob- servation. This is a more intensified activity

of all branches of geology. To the increasing- ly detailed investigations of the land areas

of geology (Weg-

may be added the geological and geophysi- cal studies of the floor of the oceans and of the polar regions and perhaps also of the surface of the moon.

geological

be

brought in keeping with newly acquired knowledge and concepts in geology as well as with the advances in other fields of sci- ence. The emergent principle of geochemical control of tectonic and geotectonic processes may add to our concepts about the develop-

ment of the earth's crust.

2. Available

data

may

FIG. 2.-The

relations of geology with its family of auxiliary sciences

GEOLOGICAL NOTES

463

3. Technical improvements of investiga-

tion may open up new fields of observation to the geologist. The new microscopic and ultramicroscopic observation techniques,

the use of computing

machines and other

electronic

devices,

and experimental

physi-

cochemical

and mechanical

studies should

be mentioned in this relation. Applied geology may help to change the

fear of atomic energy as a weapon of univer- sal destruction into hope for mankind by

applying it for new strategies

to master the

needs of raw materials in our industrial era. In addition to the use of the radioactive ele- ments for charging nuclear power stations,

they might be used in the near future for undergroundexplosions in order to increase the miningproductionand perhapsto revive apparently exhausted oil fields.

Consequently, pure and applied geology look forward to a tremendous field of activi-

ty, and it may confidently be expected that its rather stormy development during the

past century is to continue to come.

for many years

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.-Theauthor

wants

to

thank his colleague C. P. M. Frijlinck for criti- cally reading the manuscript and for his valu- able suggestions.

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