catastrophism

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catastrophism

(kətăs`trəfĭzəm), in geology, the doctrine that at intervals in the earth's history all living things have been destroyed by cataclysms (e.g., floods or earthquakes) and replaced by an entirely different population. During these cataclysms the features of the earth's surface, such as mountains and valleys, were formed. The theory, popularly accepted from the earliest times, was attacked in the late 18th cent., notably by James Hutton, who may be regarded as the precursor of the opposite doctrine of uniformitarianismuniformitarianism,
in geology, doctrine holding that changes in the earth's surface that occurred in past geologic time are referable to the same causes as changes now being produced upon the earth's surface.
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.

Catastrophism, however, was more easily correlated with religious doctrines (e.g., the Mosaic account of the Flood) and remained for some time the interpretation of the earth's history accepted by the great majority of geologists. It was systematized and defended by the Frenchman Georges CuvierCuvier, Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron
, 1769–1832, French naturalist, b. Montbéliard, studied at the academy of Stuttgart. From 1795 he taught in the Jardin des Plantes.
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, whose position as the greatest geologist of his day easily overbore all opposition. In the 19th cent., it was attacked by George Poulett Scrope and especially by Sir Charles LyellLyell, Sir Charles
, 1797–1875, British geologist. After studying and briefly practicing law, he spent most of his life in travel and in popularizing scientific ideas.
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, under whose influence the contrary doctrine gradually became more popular. Recent theories of meteorite, asteroid, or comet impacts triggering mass extinctionsmass extinction,
the extinction of a large percentage of the earth's species, opening ecological niches for other species to fill. There have been at least ten such events.
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 can be interpreted as a revival of catastrophism.

Bibliography

See R. Huggett, Catastrophism: Asteroids, Comets, and Other Dynamic Events in Earth History (1998); T. Palmer, Controversy: Catastrophism and Evolution: The Ongoing Debate (1999).

catastrophism

[kə′tas·trə‚fiz·əm]
(geology)
The theory that most features in the earth were produced by the occurrence of sudden, short-lived, worldwide events.
(paleontology)
The theory that the differences between fossils in successive stratigraphic horizons resulted from a general catastrophe followed by creation of the different organisms found in the next-younger beds.
References in periodicals archive ?
useless to think of substituting any other kind of fuel for coal." Substitute oil for coal in the last sentence and you get the erroneous foundations of the doomsday sentiment shared by the peak-oil catastrophists. There is no need to elaborate how wrong Jevons was.
It has already been noted that the poet was a "catastrophist" all his life.
When I met Bill Mollison back in the 1970s, there were certainly people in his circle who were quite catastrophist or survivalist in their attitudes and responses to imminent collapse.
Hydro's lack of a CEO at the time of the attack, "made it more difficult for Norsk Hydro to deal with the crisis, and may have been a factor in the timing of the attack," said RMS in its emailed comments written by catastrophist Gordon Woo and Russell Thomas, principal modeler.
The New York Times columnist called Francis a "catastrophist" and explained the term as someone who sees "a global civilization that for all its achievements is becoming more atomized and balkanized, more morally bankrupt, more environmentally despoiled." Catastrophists, Douthat added, "believe that things cannot go on as they are: That the trajectory we're on will end in crisis, disaster, degringolade." For that reason, Laudato Si' was about more than the natural world and human stewardship.
The description of the 'horrors of currency collapse' in Hayek's 1976 IEA publication, 'Choice in Currency', is almost exactly that of the catastrophist writers arguing for something like a Hanoverian restoration--Moss, Rees-Mogg, and Burgess.
catastrophist's dream has the potential to provoke engagement from
-"catastrophist" geology, with its commitment to a universal (Noachian) deluge;
Lauck calls for midwestern rebels to strike a more joyful tone than "catastrophist" critics of urban homogeneity like Lewis Mumford.
Porter Abbott notes that, after Darwin, religious conversion stood as the "last remaining outpost of the catastrophist paradigm of change at the ontogenetic level.
The first one focuses on the narratives of the Anthropocene, in an effort to identify what it stands for as a concept; how different researchers face the possibility of the Anthropocene if it becomes a concept, being either catastrophist or believing that technology will help mankind escape a doom-like scenario; questioning how dominant of nature we are; and assessing a new understanding of society and nature.