Cover image for Cataclysms and earth history : the development of diluvialism
Cataclysms and earth history : the development of diluvialism
Huggett, Richard J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
xii, 220 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library QE507 .H84 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book explores the development of ideas about enormous floods, both gradual and catastrophic, and the role of floods in fashioning the Earth's surface. Floods of immense size are recorded in ancient myths and classical writings. Renaissance scholars believed that sea shells found on mountains were relics of Noah's Flood, and natural philosophers during the Restoration and Enlightenment proposed elaborate theories of the Earth which accounted for a universal Deluge. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, field evidence suggested that there had been several grand cataclysms during the course of Earth's history, the most recent of which was identified with the Noachian Cataclysm. In the nineteenth century too, a gradual inundation of continents was proposed, an idea which was taken up by proponents of marine regression and transgression cycles. During the present century the notion of marine transgression has been refined. Recently, the possibility of catastrophic flooding has again been raised. The author traces the developments of each of these theories and provides a comprehensive bibliography of the exploration of these ideas through the centuries.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Huggett (University of Manchester) has produced one of the very few books dealing exclusively with the diluvial theories--past and present. Thus, it would be difficult to compare this work with any other extant publication. Diluvialism, or the theory of global geomorphic origins based on catastrophic flooding, has its roots going back before the Old Testament writings of the Noachian Flood. According to the author, diluvialism is more than a historical curiosity that met its demise after the uniformitarianism concept evolved early in the 19th century. Much of the book traces the evolution of diluvialistic theory from Flood accounts in early writings through the time of the Enlightenment philosophers. Definitions and methodologies introduce the reader to the topic. Modifications to the concepts in recent times, such as gradualistic and nonviolent considerations, are presented, in addition to concepts such as the rebirth of catastrophic theories in light of recent findings relative to meteorite bombardment and rapid polar reversals. Illustrations are sparse, nonphotographic, and judiciously used. The bibliography is extensive and reflects most major related works. An ample index enables quick location of major topics and terms. Accessible to public library audiences as well as those of college libraries. -B. D. Dod, Mercer University

Table of Contents

1 Introducing Diluvialism: Cataclysms, Debacles, and Deluges
2 The Seeds of Diluvialism: Floods in Ancient Writings
3 The Rise of Diluvialism: Floods and Renaissance Scholars
4 The Development of Diluvialism: Floods and Restoration Cosmogonists
5 The Maturing of Diluvialism: Floods and Enlightenment Philosophers
6 The High Tide of Diluvialism: Floods and their Signature
7 Gradualistic Diluvialism: Floods and a Non-Violent History of the Earth
8 Diluvialism, Debacles, and Climatic Change: Floods from Lake Bursts and a Pluvial Period
9 Catastrophic Diluvialism: Floods, Fast Tumble, and Meteorite Bombardment

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