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Folio: Unconformity at Jedburgh

Strata of sedimentary rock lie at opposing angles in John Clerk’s illustration, revealing lengthy processes at work under the earth’s surface 

Hutton john clerk unconformity at jedburgh architectural review

Hutton john clerk unconformity at jedburgh architectural review

Illustrated by John Clerk of Eldin (1787), the ‘Unconformity at Jedburgh’ originally appeared in James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth (1795). The strata witnessed provided evidence for a geologic theory that would later be called uniformitarianism – that is, the idea that the natural laws we see in operation today have shaped the Earth through slow, grinding, gradual processes, that these same laws have always operated in the past, and apply everywhere in the Universe. The term was posed in 1832 in opposition to catastrophism, the theory that the Earth has been shaped by sudden and violent global events: eruptions, extinctions or biblical floods

Image courtesy of Archive Room / Alamy

This piece is featured in the AR February 2020 issue on Soil – click here to purchase your copy today