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Chapter 3: Uniformitarianism
Often interpreted as ‘the present is the key to the past’, uniformitarianism has been an important concept influencing the development of Earth sciences since it was introduced in 1832. It is acknowledged as a stimulating paradigm influencing geomorphological thinking, but more recently has been critically reviewed, considered to be integral throughout science, and complemented by other concepts including actualism, gradualism and catastrophism.
Uniformitarianism is the concept often expressed as the ‘present is the key to the past’ (Geikie, 1905). Explanations could be framed in terms of observable processes rather than ascribed to catastrophic events or the intervention of a deity. It is consistent with the heuristic(general guiding rule based on experience or observation) which has become known as Occam's (or Ockham's) razor, ...