List of important publications in geology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from List of publications in geology)
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a list of important publications in geology, organized by field.

Some reasons why a particular publication might be regarded as important:

  • Topic creator – A publication that created a new topic
  • Breakthrough – A publication that changed scientific knowledge significantly
  • Influence – A publication which has significantly influenced the world or has had a massive impact on the teaching of geology.

Compilations of important publications can be found in Further reading.


Established the following stratigraphical principles: law of superposition, principle of original horizontality, principle of lateral continuity and theprinciple of cross-cutting relationships
Hutton's Theory of the Earth was the first publication to clearly articulate the principle of deep time, and to recognize that rocks record the evidence of the past action of processes which still operate today. These ideas were to grow into the idea of Uniformitarianism. Hutton is widely regarded as the "Father of Modern Geology".
Hutton's book is widely regarded as unreadable, and may have remained obscure if not for this work by the brilliant prose stylist John Playfair.[3]
The work's subtitle was "An Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface by Reference to Causes now in Operation", and this explains Lyell's impact on science: he was, along with the earlier John Playfair, the major advocate of the then-controversial idea of uniformitarianism, that the Earth was shaped entirely by slow-moving forces acting over a very long period of time. This was in contrast to catastrophism, a geologic idea that went hand-in-hand with the age of the Earth suggested by biblical chronology. In various revised editions (twelve in all, through 1872), Principles of Geology was the most influential geological work in the middle of the 19th century, and did much to put geology on a modern footing. Charles Darwin frequently acknowledged his deep debt to this book.[5]

Economic geology[edit]

  • Lindgren, W. (1933) Mineral Deposits. 930 pp. McGraw-Hill, New York.
  • Ridge, John D., ed. (1968). Ore Deposits of the United States, 1933-1967. Society for Mining Metallurgy. ISBN 978-0895200082. 
Descriptions of major ore deposits in USA. Updates the earlier Lindgren volume. A basic reference work for economic geologists
  • Pohl, W.L., 2011. Economic Geology, Principles and Practice: Metals, Minerals, Coal and Hydrocarbons – an Introduction to Formation and Sustainable Exploitation of Mineral Deposits. 663 Pages, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford. ISBN 978-1444336627
The book provides a broad view across the whole field of economic geology. In the first of seven chapters, the concepts of process systems producing mineral deposits are introduced. Further chapters present the essentials on deposits of metals, industrial minerals and rocks, salt, exploration and mining geology, coal and hydrocarbons. Frequent explanations and references to environmental and health aspects of extraction and processing of ores and minerals should assist users involved in environmental work.


Laid the foundations of geochemistry, including the Goldschmidt classification elements.
A highly cited guide to the use of isotope geochemistry in solving geological problems, and the methods involved. Has been cited more than 3200 times. A second edition was published in 1986. A third edition, with Teresa M. Mensing, was published in 2005, under the title Isotopes: Principles and Applications.


The speech recorded by this volume of Transactions represents the final version of the theory of the age of the Earth which Thomson has been refining since 1862. In it, he proposed that the age of the Earth was "more than 20 and less than 40 million year old, and probably much nearer 20 than 40".[6] His analysis was based on the time it would take the Earth to cool from a completely molten state, and his estimate was consistent with a number of other physical estimates from, amongst others, George Darwin, Hermann von Helmholtz, and Simon Newcomb. This strikingly young age put Thomson in direct conflict with both Uniformitarian geologists and evolutionary biologists, both of whose theories required much longer spans of time to take effect.[7] This paradox of the age of the Earth was resolved only by fuller understanding of the roles of convection and radioactivity in the planet's interior in the early 20th century, and it required understanding of thermonuclear fusion in the Sun developed only in the 1930s to fully explain the stability of the whole solar system over multi-billion year timescales.[8]
  • De Geer, G. (1912), A geochronology of the last 12000 years. Congr. Géol. Int. Stockholm 1910, C.R., 241-253.
In the 1910 International Geological Congress held in Stockholm Gerard De Geer presented to international community his research on glacial lake varves showing that they represented annual layers and were useful in the study of deglaciation.


In 1837, Agassiz was the first to scientifically propose that the Earth had been subject to a past ice age.[9] This book lays out his theories in print. It represents his theories that vast areas of northern Europe had in the past been covered in ice, extending down to the Caspian and Mediterranean seas. The book represents the birth of the fields of glaciology and glacial geomorphology.[10]
  • Gilbert, Grove Karl (1877). Report on the Geology of the Henry Mountains (Report). United States Geological Survey Professional Paper. [1]:586–596
G. K. Gilbert lays the groundwork for many ideas in modern geomorphology, such as the diffusive profiles of hillslopes and the formation of pediments. In addition to its geomorphic significance, it is a description of the last major mountain range to be mapped by Europeans in the contiguous United States[11] (the Henry Mountains being located in a remote part of Utah) and a description of its formation as a laccolith.
In his 1899 publication William Morris Davis establishes the cycle of erosion model laying the foundations for the study of peneplains, relief development and denudation chronology.
  • Łozinski, W. (1912). Die periglaziale fazies der mechanischen Verwitterung. Comptes Rendus, XI Congres Internationale Geologie, Stockholm 1910.
In this work Walery Łoziński publishes his presentation at the 1910 International Geological Congress held in Stockholm and establishes periglacial geomorphology as a new field of study.
  • Hjulström, Filip (1935). Studies of the morphological activity of rivers as illustrated by the River Fyris (Inaugural Dissertation). Almqvist & Wiksells. 
With this work Filip Hjulström marks a shift towards quantitative geomorphology and process geomorphology in Sweden and Europe. The publication is founding stone of the Uppsala School of Physical Geography. It influences the Ph.D. students of Hjulström Anders Rapp, Valter Axelsson, Åke Sundborg and John O. Norrman.
Laid the foundations of the scientific investigation of the transport of sand by wind.[12]
  • Hack, John Tilton (1960). Interpretation of erosional topography in humid temperate regions. Bobbs-Merrill. 
Championed the concept of dynamic equilibrium in geomorphology.[13]
  • Rapp, A. (1960). "Recent development of mountain slopes in Kärkevagge and surroundings, northern Scandinavia". Geografiska Annaler. 42 (2): 65–200. 
One of the first measurements of chemical erosion and one of the first quantitative assessments on the relative role of chemical and mechanical weathering in cold climates.


A classic reference on the Earth's magnetic field and related topics in meteorology, solar and lunar physics, the aurora, techniques of spherical harmonic analysis and treatment of periodicities in geophysical data.[14] Its comprehensive summaries made it the standard reference on geomagnetism and the ionosphere for at least 2 decades.[15]

Geotechnical engineering[edit]


  • Darcy, Henry (1856). The Public Fountains of the City of Dijon. English translation by Patricia Bobeck (reprint ed.). Kendall/Hunt. ISBN 0-7575-0540-6. 

Mineralogy and petrology[edit]

De Natura Fossilium[edit]

Author: Georg Frederick Agricola, translated from Latin by Mark Chance Bandy and Jean Bandy[1]:7–11
Year: 1564
Republished by the Geological Society of America
Description: Systematic treatise of then known minerals and gemstones as well as other rocks.
Importance: The first systematic mineralogical treatise since Pliny's Natural History.

The mineral facies of rocks[edit]

Author: Pentti Eskola
Year: 1920
Description: It established the concept of metamorphic facies.
Importance: Breakthrough, influence

The Evolution of the Igneous Rocks[edit]

Author: Norman L. Bowen
Year: 1928
Importance: Breakthrough, influence

Rock-Forming Minerals[edit]

Author: W. A. Deer, R. A. Howie and J. Zussman
Year: 1962–63; 1978- (2nd ed.)
Description: A 5 volume comprehensive treatise of the physical, chemical, mineralogical, petrological and optical properties of essentially all minerals with nontrivial abundances to be found in terrestrial rocks. Also presents information regarding common origins and associations of each mineral, as well as a practical commentary on how to distinguish each mineral from others which may appear similar. It is the complete work from which the much beloved, student-friendly version, An Introduction to the Rock-Forming Minerals by the same authors, is based.
Importance: Influence, advanced reference.

Metamorphic Phase Equilibria and Pressure-Temperature-Time Paths[edit]

Author: Frank S. Spear
Year: 1993
Description: Presents the thermodynamic basis for modern, quantitative petrology and systematically reviews metamorphism for most rock types. Popularly also known as the "big blue book".
Importance: Influence, advanced reference.

Petroleum geology[edit]

  • Vail, P. R.; Mitchum Jr., R. M.; Todd, R. G.; Widmier, J. M.; Thompson, S.; Sangree, J. B.; et. al. (1977). "Seismic stratigraphy and global changes in sea level". In Payton, C. E. Seismic Stratigraphy–Applications to hydrocarbon exploration, AAPG Memoir. 26. Tulsa: American Association of Petroleum Geologists. pp. 49–205. 
Original work on seismic sequence stratigraphy.[16][17]

Plate tectonics[edit]

The Playbook of Metals[edit]

Author: John Henry Pepper
Year: 1861
Description: It was the first book to marshall considerable geological evidence that the continents are mobile relative to each other around the North Atlantic (mainly). It uses Evan Hopkins booklet (On the connection of geology with terrestrial magnetism, 1844), but adapts its data to a plutonist point-of-view.
Importance: Breakthrough

The Face of the Earth[edit]

Author: Eduard Suess
Year: 1883 - 1901
Description: Das Antlitz der Erde was the first book to show geological evidence that some continents were linked with each other: Suess set out his belief that across geologic time, the rise and fall of sea levels were mappable across the earth—that is, that the periods of ocean transgression and regression were correlateable from one continent to another. His theory was based upon glossopteris fern fossils occurring in South America, Africa, and India. His explanation was that the three lands were once connected in a supercontinent, which he named Gondwána-Land (nowadays usually written Gondwanaland). However Suess mistakenly believed that the oceans flooded the spaces currently between those lands.
Moreover, Suess expressed views in this book on the connection between Africa and Europe. Eventually, he concluded that the Alps to the north were once at the bottom of an ocean, of which the Mediterranean was a remnant. Suess was not correct in his analysis, which was predicated upon the notion of "contractionism"—the idea that the Earth is cooling down and, therefore, contracting. Nevertheless, he is credited with postulating the earlier existence of the Tethys Ocean, which he named in 1893.
Suess also introduced in this book the concept of the biosphere, which was later extended by Vladimir I. Vernadsky in 1926.
Importance: Breakthrough, Influence

The Origin of Continents and Oceans[edit]

Author: Alfred Wegener
Year: 1915
Description: Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane was the second book to marshall considerable geological evidence that the continents are mobile relative to each other on the surface of the Earth. His theory was based upon numerous matches between the topography, paleontology and past climate of continents now separated by oceans. At the time of publication his ideas were not taken seriously by most of the geological community as he could not provide a mechanism for continental motion, but his ideas form the foundations of the modern theory of plate tectonics.
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence

Sedimentology and stratigraphy[edit]

  • Steno, Nicolaus (1669). De solido intra solidum naturaliter contento dissertationis prodromus [Of Solids Naturally Contained Within Solids] (in Latin). Firenze. [1]:33–44
First statement of three fundamental laws of geology: the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality, and the principle of cross-cutting relationships.[18]:9
  • Walther, Johannes (1893). Einleitung in die Geologie als historische Wissenschaft [Introduction to geology as a historical science] (in German). 3 volumes. Jena: G. Fischer,. 
  • Folk, R. L. (1965). Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks. Hemphill's. 
The basis for the widely used folk classification for clastic and carbonate rocks
Provided new evidence and revived interest for the Precambrian world-wide glaciations.

Structural geology[edit]

  • Ramsay, John G. (1967). Folding and fracturing of rocks. McGraw–Hill. 
Began a whole school of structural geology that used the techniques of continuum mechanics to understand rock structures.[19]


Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology[edit]

Founder/1st Editor: Raymond C. Moore
Geological Society of America/University of Kansas Press, 1953 onwards
Description: A definitive multi-authored work of some 50 volumes, written by more than 300 paleontologists, and still a work-in-progress. It covers every phylum, class, order, family, and genus of fossil and extant (still living) invertebrate animals.
Importance: Influence. A standard reference work in paleontology.


Quantitative Seismology[edit]

Author: Keiiti Aki, Paul G. Richards Year: 1980

Description: Chapters outline basic theorems in dynamic elasticity, representation of seismic sources, elastic waves from a point dislocation, plane waves in homogeneous media and their reflection and transmission at a plane boundary, reflection and refraction of spherical waves; Lamb's problem, surface waves in a vertically heterogeneous medium, free oscillations of the Earth, body waves in media with depth-dependent properties, the seismic source: kinematics, the seismic source: dynamics, and principles of seismometry

Importance: This is the basic textbook used by theoretical seismologists

Weak elastic anisotropy[edit]

Author: Leon Thomsen

Geophysics, 51(10), 1954–1966, 1986

Description: In his paper, Thomsen defined a version of elastic anisotropy using transversely istoropic media that could be analyzed through the use of his Thomsen parameters. Importance: Influential. Most cited paper in the history of geophysics.


The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting[edit]

Author: Christopher Scholz
2002, Cambridge University Press, 496 p.
Description: An influential review of fault properties, dynamics and growth, how they fail, and how this links to seismology. Highly cited (>2700 citations).
Importance: Influence

Some remarks on the development of sedimentary basins[edit]

Author: Dan McKenzie
1978, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 40(1), p. 25-32.
Description: The first paper to lay out the now widely accepted model for formation of sedimentary basins by tectonic stretching of the lithosphere (mechanical thinning), followed by lowering of the basin by the cooling of upwelled, hot asthenosphere at depth below it (isostatic deepening). Highly cited (>2200 citations).
Importance: Breakthrough, influence.


Letters of Pliny the Younger to the Historian Tacitus, 6th Book, Letter 16[edit]

Author: Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Pliny the Younger
Year: 79 CE
Description: This letter contains the first detailed description of a volcanic eruption in western culture – the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in what is now known as a plinian eruption in 79 CE.
Importance: Topic creator

The 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens, Washington[edit]

Author: Peter W. Lipman and Donal R. Mullineaux (editors)
USGS Professional Paper 1250, Washington D.C., 1981
Description: The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, USA, allowed volcanologists to document first hand a large number of volcanic processes which hitherto had been only inferred. It spurred a revitalization of the whole discipline of volcanology. This anthology of papers was amongst the first to present new data gained during the eruption.
Importance: Breakthrough

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Mather & Mason 1967
  2. ^ Dean, Dennis R. (1992). James Hutton and the history of geology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. pp. 30–83. ISBN 9780801426667. 
  3. ^ Gould, Stephen Jay (2001). Time's arrow time's cycle : myth and metaphor in the discovery of geological time (11th print. ed.). Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780674891999. 
  4. ^ Online facsimile
  5. ^ From the dedication in Voyage of the Beagle: TO CHARLES LYELL, ESQ., F.R.S.: This Second Edition Is Dedicated with Grateful Pleasure, As an Acknowledgment That the Chief Part of Whatever Scientific Merit This Journal and the Other Works of the Author May Possess, Has Been Derived from Studying the Well-Known and Admirable PRINCIPLES OF GEOLOGY."
  6. ^ Dalrymple, G. Brent. The age of the Earth. Stanford University Press, 1994. pp. 14, 43
  7. ^ Dalrymple, 1994, p. 14-17.
  8. ^ Stacey, Frank D. (2000). "Kelvin's age of the Earth paradox revisited". Journal of Geophysical Research. 105 (B6): 13155–13158. Bibcode:2000JGR...10513155S. doi:10.1029/2000JB900028. 
  9. ^ E.P. Evans: "The Authorship of the Glacial Theory", North American review Volume 145, Issue 368, July 1887. Accessed on February 25, 2008.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Heath, Steven H. (1997). "A Historical Sketch of the Scientific Exploration of the Region Containing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument". Bureau of Land Management Science Symposium. Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  12. ^ Ball, Philip (2009). "In Retrospect: the physics of sand dunes". Nature. 457 (7233): 1084. Bibcode:2009Natur.457.1084B. doi:10.1038/4571084a. 
  13. ^ Osterkamp, W.R.; Hupp, C.R. "Memorial to John T. Hack". Memorials. 23: 59–61. 
  14. ^ European Geosciences Union. "Awards & Medals: Julius Bartels". Retrieved September 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  15. ^ Akasofu, Syun-Ichi (2011). "The Scientific Legacy of Sydney Chapman". EOS. 92 (34): 281–282. Bibcode:2011EOSTr..92..281A. doi:10.1029/2011EO340001. 
  16. ^ Roberts, edited by A Bally, David G. (2008). Principles of regional geology (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 345. ISBN 9780444530424. 
  17. ^ Emery, Dominic; Myers, Keith, eds. (2009). Sequence Stratigraphy. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 3, 6. ISBN 9781444313703. 
  18. ^ Cloud 1970
  19. ^ Llana-Funez, S.; Marcos, A.; Bastida, F. (20 March 2014). "Deformation structures and processes within the continental crust: an introduction". Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 394 (1): 1–6. Bibcode:2014GSLSP.394....1L. doi:10.1144/SP394.13. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]