Humans have tried to figure out what formed the landscape of the earth for thousands of years. How were mountains created? Where did lakes and rivers come from? What lies under the surface of the earth? And one concept that greatly aided the scientific advance of the earth sciences was that of geological cycles. Once scientists understood that many geological actions are cyclic, the scientific knowledge of the earth exploded. These ideas are central to the nature of the earth sciences, and appreciating how scientists arrived at these ideas is essential for understanding the nature of the earth sciences.
David Oldroyd is Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of New South Wales and was Secretary-General of the International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences for eight years. A recipient of awards for his historical work from the Geological Society of London, the Geological Society of America, and the Australian Commonwealth, he is the author of numerous articles and several books, including (in the geosciences): The Highlands Controversy: Constructing Geological Knowledge through Fieldwork in Nineteenth-century Britain, Sciences of the Earth: Studies in the History of Mineralogy and Geology, Thinking about the Earth: A History of Ideas in Geology, Earth, Water, Ice and Fire: Two Hundred Years of Geological Research in the English Lake District, and (with Jan Kozak and Victor Moreira) The Iconography of the Lisbon Earthquake.