HALL, Sir James. On the Revolutions of the Earth's Surface. Edinburgh: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1815.
4to. Recently bound in linen backed light blue paper-covered boards; pp. 139-211, 4 plates (one with handcolouring); fourth plate repaired to fore-edge, otherwise near fine.
First edition, disbound from Volume VII of the Transactions. This is a highly important paper, delivered to the Society in 1812, by Sir James Hall (1761-1832). It "demonstrates his powers of observation in the field and records a further attempt to reproduce a geological process experimentally" (DSB). A friend of James Hutton at Edinburgh University, he was an early supporter of Hutton's then radical notion that crystalline rocks had cooled from hot liquids generated deep within the earth. By the time of this paper he was moving beyond Hutton: " he took up the ideas of De Saussure and Pallas, suggesting that the earth's surface is reshaped and recycled, not by the ordinary processes of erosion as Hutton believed, but by immense tidal waves. These he attempted to simulate ‘with explosions of some pounds of gunpowder under water’ (J. Hall, ‘Revolutions’, 156). Among the phenomena which he sought to explain were erratic boulders and slickensides" (ODNB). His work was instrumental in establishing the theories of Hutton as the new geological mainstream, rather than the conflicting ideas of Werner, and cemented his own claim as the founder of experimental geology.