The founder of Stratigraphy Nicolas Stenon in his work Canis Carchariae[1] interpreted the superposition of strata as a succession of sedimentary deposits. From this he deduced in Prodromus the principles of stratigraphy. These were : superposition, continuity and original horizontality of strata, which are the basis of the relative geological time-scale.

Charles Lyell defined absolute chronology. In 1828 he travelled to Auvergne and examined the fresh water foliated rocks. As the foliated strata or laminæ of less than a millimeter were said to be annual deposits, he realized the total (230 meters) would take thousands of years to form. In his « Principles of Geology » (1832) he noted that there was a 5 per cent renewal of the fauna during the « ice age ». Assuming a constant renewal (uniformitarian hypothesis) it would take twenty times longer for a « revolution » of the fauna to be produced. Now, Lyell calculated four revolutions since the end of the secondary era and eight others for the time before since the beginning of the primary era. As his contemporaneous James Croll, estimates, for astronomical reasons that glacial time lasted one million years, Lyell fixed to 240 million years the base of the primary. This figure was increased by radiometric dating to 560 million in the 20th century.

The historical geology founded on the interpretation of Stenon remains unproven, because there were no witnesses to the stratification. It was this fact that led me in 1970 to develop an experimental program to study the formation of strata. In sedimentary rocks there are strata or laminæ of millimetric thickness similar to those observed by Lyell mentioned above.

This website presents my experiments in Sedimentology.


[1] N. Stenon and N. Stensen, “Canis Carchariae Dissectum Caput, KIU” Aus., lat. u. engl. The earliest geological treatise, 1667.

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