Hall, James,1811–98, American geologist and paleontologist, b. Hingham, Mass., grad. Rensselaer School (later Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), 1832. An authority on stratigraphy and invertebrate paleontology, he joined the New York state geological survey in 1836 and in 1839 became state geologist for New York. He wrote Paleontology of New York (8 vol. in 13, 1847–94), a monumental report on the paleontology of the state; his work formed the basis for the later geological histories of North America. He also served briefly as state geologist for Iowa and Wisconsin and was director (1866–94) of the New York State Museum at Albany.
See studies by R. C. Randall (1964) and J. M. Clarke (1921, repr. 1973).
Born Jan. 17, 1761, in Dunglass, Haddingtonshire; died June 23, 1832, in Edinburgh. Scottish geologist, the founder of experimental geology. Member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1784; president from 1812); fellow of the Royal Society of London (1806).
Hall studied at Cambridge University from 1777 to 1779 and at the University of Edinburgh from 1781 to 1783. He was one of the first to use experiments in geology. He reproduced folding phenomena. By melting various magmatic rocks—particularly basalt—he obtained glassy or crystalline synthetic rocks, depending on the cooling time. He also transformed limestone into a marblelike substance. By his experiments, Hall confirmed J. Hutton’s views on the origin of intrusive rocks.
REFERENCEEyles, V. A. “Sir James Hall, Bt. (1761–1832).” Endeavour, 1961, vol.20.
G. P. KHOMIZURI
Born Sept. 12, 1811, in Hingham, Mass.; died Aug. 7, 1898, in Albany, N.Y. American geologist and paleontologist.
In 1832, Hall graduated from the Rensselaer School (renamed the Rensselaer Institute later that year) in Troy, N.Y. He became a professor of chemistry, natural science, and geology at the Rensselaer Institute in 1836. In the same year, he joined the staff of the New York State Geological Survey, becoming its director in 1843.
Hall studied the geologic structure of various regions in the USA and Canada. He wrote a monograph describing about 5,000 Paleozoic fossils of North America and devised a stratigraphie scheme for the Silurian and the Devonian in the northeastern part of the USA. In 1859, Hall became the first to express the idea that fold mountains correspond to regions that, in the past, underwent prolonged downwarping simultaneously with the deposition of thick sedimentary beds. One of the fundamental theories of modern geology—the theory of geosynclines—was later developed on the basis of this hypothesis. A number of Hall’s works dealt with the problem of metamorphism.
In 1895, Hall became an honorary member of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.
WORKSPaleontology of New York, vols. 1–8. Albany–New York, 1847–94.
REFERENCEHovey, H. C. “Life and Work of J. Hall.” Journal of Geology, 1899, vol. 23.
G. P. KHOMIZURI