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p. 142. The present is the key to the pastlocked

  • Andrew Goudie
  •  and Heather Viles

Abstract

How can scholars understand how a landform changes over vast periods of time? ‘The present is the key to the past ’ investigates how early geomorphologists made connections between forms and processes. Key figures of early geomorphology and their findings are discussed: William Morris Davis, Louis Agassiz, Grove Karl Gilbert. These early investigators: described landscapes; interpreted unfamiliar landscapes using their existing knowledge of the world; developed theories; and tested these theories using dating. These four elements form the basis of modern-day landscape science. They also tried to answer three questions: How do different types of coral reefs develop? Are rivers powerful agents of denudation? What created the landscapes of the Alps?

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