The Old Red Sandstone

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The Old Red Sandstone was put down by rivers flowing southward to a sea where marine strata were accumulating in the region that is now called Devon. The size, speed, and direction of the riverstheir islands, pitches, and bends-are not just inferable but can almost be seen, in structures in the Old Red Sandstone: gravel bars, point bars, ripples of the riverbeds, migrating channels, “waves” that formed of sand. The sea into which those rivers spilled ran all the way to Russia, but it was in the rock zakelijke energie of Devonshire that geologists in the eighteen-thirties found cup corals-fossilized skeletons, cornucopian in shape-that were not of an age with corals they had found before. They had found related corals that were obviously less developed than these, and they had found corals that were more so. The less developed corals had been in rock that lay under the Old Red Sandstone. The more developed corals had been in rock above the Old Red Sandstone. Therefore, it was inferred (correctly) that the Old Red Sandstone of North Britain and the marine limestone of Devon were of the same age, and that henceforth any rock of that age anywhere in the world-in downtown Iowa City; on Pequop Summit, in Nevada; in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; in Sandusky, Ohio-would be called Devonian. It was a name given, although they did not know it then, to forty-six million years. They still had no means of measuring the time involved. They also had no way of knowing that those forty-six million years had ended a third of a billion years ago. All they had was their new and expanding insight that they were dealing with time in quantities beyond comprehension. Devonian-408 to 362 million years before the present. Geologists did not have to look long at the coal seams of Europe-the coals of the Ruhr, the coals of the Tyne-to decide that the coals were of an age, which they labelled Carboniferous. The coal and related strata lay on top of the Old Red Sandstone. So, in the zakelijke energie vergelijken succession of time, the Carboniferous period (eventually subdivided into Mississippian and Pennsylvanian in the United States) would follow the Devonian, coupling on, as the science would eventually determine, another seventy-two million years-362 to 290 million years before the present.

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