26/03/2019
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Geologist James Hutton died - On this day in history

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James Hutton, the geologist whose studies into the formation of the earth helped form the basis of modern geology, died on 26 March 1797. Hutton's interest in the make-up of the earth began whilst he was farming his own land. While clearing and draining his land, he began to form pioneering theories on what made up the earth. He noted that:

'A vast proportion of the present rocks are composed of materials afforded by the destruction of bodies, animal, vegetable and mineral, of more ancient formation.'

After 25 years of study, he wrote Theory of the Earth which detailed his findings. Hutton was a contemporary of several other great minds and with Joseph Black and Adam Smith, founded the Oyster Club, which met weekly. He was also involved in the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal, both as a shareholder and as a means of sharing and increasing his geological knowledge.

QUICK LINK: Five Scots who stepped off the map into the unknown

Further reading

James Hutton's Theory of the Earth

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