Show Summary Details

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

  • Andrew Goudie
  •  and Heather Viles


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?

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.