A Geologist Way Ahead of His Time

Alfred Wegener: The Father of Continental Drift. Martin Schwarzbach. Translated by Carla Love. Science Tech, Madison, WI, 1986. 241 pp. $35. German meteorologist Alfred Wegener, 1880-1930, was the most systematic and visible of the few early advocates of continental drift. Working in part with his father-in-law, renowned climatologist Wiadimir Koppen, Wegener recognized that various geologic and paleontologic features, including the distribution of indicators of paleoclimates, required very diff

Warren Hamilton
Apr 5, 1987
Alfred Wegener: The Father of Continental Drift. Martin Schwarzbach. Translated by Carla Love. Science Tech, Madison, WI, 1986. 241 pp. $35.


German meteorologist Alfred Wegener, 1880-1930, was the most systematic and visible of the few early advocates of continental drift. Working in part with his father-in-law, renowned climatologist Wiadimir Koppen, Wegener recognized that various geologic and paleontologic features, including the distribution of indicators of paleoclimates, required very different arrangements of the continents in the past than at the present.

Wegener deduced, correctly, that oceans are underlain by dense rocks and continents by light rocks, but he erred in arguing that the continents were rafts floating about in the dense material. He died in 1930 on the Greenland ice cap, victim of his own inept planning and execution of a middle-scale replay of Robert F. Scott's second Antarctic expedition, complete with ponies and untested vehicles.

Wegener was dismissed as a...

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