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Antony R. Orme

In: The SAGE Handbook of Geographical Knowledge

Chapter 36: The Cycle of Erosion: Changing Times, Changing Science

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The Cycle of Erosion: Changing Times, Changing Science
The cycle of erosion: Changing times, changing science
Introdcution

In the 1880s, the Harvard geographer William Morris Davis (1850–1934) formulated a cycle of erosion to explain the development of landforms over time. His model received widespread, but not universal, acclamation. Cyclic concepts were common to nineteenth-century science and Davis’ model offered a seemingly logical explanation of Earth's landforms in terms of their apparent youth or maturity or old age, and their evolutionary culmination in the peneplain. The model survived well into the twentieth century and generated many followers. There were skeptics, of course, and there were alternative concepts, but not until the emergence of plate tectonics, refined dating of geologic time and improved understanding of Earth's changing climates and ...

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