The Vetlesen Prize

Acceptance Speech

Pentti Eelis Eskola
March 25, 1964


Professor Eskola of Finland and Professor Holmes of ... Edinburg... both have made fundamental contributions to man’s knowledge of the earth. Eskola by showing how the evolution of rocks of the earth's crust have decreased, and Holmes by initiating and developing means for dating the rocks.

Professor Eskola started as a chemist. By application of the principles of chemistry he has advanced our understanding of the origin of crystalline rocks. Nearly 50 years ago he, introduced the concept of metamorphic phases by which it possible to deduce the conditions of temperature and pressure under which a series of rocks of widely different mineralogical composition have been formed. A vital requirement for tracing the evolution of rocks in the earth's crust.

Professor Eskola has received many honors, much recognition of his achievements. As far as I know, he's the only person who has receive (the Steinbock Medal, the Penrose and Wallison medals. Professor Eskola will speak about the evolution of the earth and the development of life.

Professor P. E. Eskola:

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen. As a student at the University of Helsinki I first chose chemistry as my subject, and was at the same time much interested in the natural philosophy of Wilhelm Osterwald and Ernst Mach. Soon however, my interest turned to more realistic matters -- the world of minerals and rocks. I conceived spectrology as physical chemistry of rocks in which the concept of chemical equilibrium plays an important part. This line of thinking eventually led me to the concept of the mineral phases of rocks. This I regard as one of the most important theoretical contributions of my life work.

In 1921 came over to America and worked two years at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, employed in experimental work on the chemical system of rocks and….elements. During my stay in Washington, I became acquainted with many imminent American geologists. Among them were of course those employed at the Geophysical laboratory, among whom the most imminent scientist was Norman …. Bowman (?), famous for his experimental works, as well as his theoretical elucidation of the law of …..or crystallization of the magnetic rocks. Another excellent scientist was F. E. Wright, perhaps best known for his optical investigations of minerals. A very industrious worker and at the same time a most pleasant fellow was Henry Stephen Washington who Had the habit once in a while to take a few of his colleagues to the Cosmos Club where many unforgettable evenings were spent listening to humorous narratives from many lands -- the Occident as well as the Orient, because he had….from all parts of the earth.
As natural, after 42 years had since my stay in Washington many of the men of that time have passed by, but as far as I have heard, at least some of them are still living. I am sure that Dr….is still there and perhaps there are some others. It will be an extraordinary joy for me to see him again. At least he, and perhaps some other….. of the lab.
At intervals, colleagues from other places in the U.S.A. came to visit the Geophysical. I remember for instance, R. A. David whom I repeatedly met during his visits to Washington. His many works on the structure of the earth, indigenous rocks and the static changes of the sea level are all highly elucidative. And as for his personality, he was most sympathetic.

In the summer of 1922 I worked under the leadership of Dr. H. L. Collins ......... north shore area of Lake Huron in Canada…..this place, a regular folding of the strata and a rather feeble metamorphosis resembl-ing that of certain….. areas in general. Here in the temperate zone there are sedimental….. They are… conformital metabasaltic veins and in places there are intergalcial live stones

In America, as in most other old fields of the earth's crust, granites belong to the most common rocks. Many granites are believed to be magnetic rocks included in the form of… older rocks, mostly ….. Other granites, however, appear to be formed by a process call meta….. from original sediments, either sandstones or original sands, or from claystones. In the first quarter of the present century, a rather heated discussion was going on between ……who explained most granites as being magnetic and therefore they are called magne...... and then….. The most extreme meta…..believes that all granites are…..and they are humorously called…..I think that expression is still known to most geologists.

This fued ended when it became evident that both kinds of granite exist. The famous geologist, J. J. Saderholm, was regarded as the creator and the furthermost representative of the meta....... school, although he really was not an extremist as were many others about 1930, especially many French petrologist as….. and…..Saderholm's starting point was that the first stage of meta....... gives rise to mixed rocks, some of them containing granite…..


…….criticized about the middle 1930's. Many geologists, for instance during….. has said that mountain chains have arisen in all times. In my opinion, anyway, it is certain that some periods have been particularly autogenic. For instance, the later part of the tertiary period. The present time is also rather autogenic, as mountain chains rising from the sea, and in many parts, as in East India, there are still many parts of the mountain chain that are covered by the sea
Recent ages of rocks can be determined from the amount of decay that has taken place in the atoms of radioactive elements, such as uranium and radioactive potassium. The ages thus measured are very commonly -- at the same time, the ages are autogen.... …..Scandinavian Peninsula and Finland is the oldest rock….. a certain ..... and they call that peninsula for some Russian chronologist….. age of 3,600 millions of years. Ages of the same length have been found for certain rocks in Africa and…..but no appreciably higher age has been found. This means that the earth as a whole probably is not much older.

As professor Otto Holmes has said, the known rock ages when found in one nest from many areas, most probably indicates autogenisis. This means that a series of autogenic periods has been ascertained. The most ancient of them called "Cata...." periods are more than 3,000 millions of years. And in many other areas, the age is over 2,000 millions of years. For instance, the Lep..... found in….. Sweden and Finland are…..In the ...... area in Finland, a certain….. was determined as 2,240 millions of years old. Still commoner is the age of granites in most parts of Finoscandia and in the north shore region in Ontario in Canada, north of Lake Huron, and parts of the middle east -- middle west states in the U.S.A. is the where ages are about 1,800 millions of years. This is the regular age of rocks in Finland and central Sweden. A great probability is that most parts of the granites in these as in North America are all of meta..... origin, even if they are called m..... rocks.
There are peculiar….. called the granites Finnish term, and likewise, the granites of the so-called first group which petrographically are light..... They surely are m….. rock because say you also have….. varieties and even elsewhere such ..... of rock….. fine grained structure like all through the volcanic rocks. You also have ...... parts.
….. granite is in most cases connected with the formation of mountain chains, a process called autogenic. Autogenesies have occurred during most periods of the earth's history. They have started from sunken elongated zones of the earth that previously were filled with water. They were called….. sink lines by the American geologist James Hall who first used that term in the middle of the 19th Century. A little later, James Dwight Dana developed the theory of autogenesis for the idea of the alteration of autogenic and….. periods, and has lately been criticized by many geologists. I may mention for instance. James….. of Los Angeles who says, like many others, that mountain chains are formed in the old periods. In my opinion, this is somewhat exaggerated anyway, because it cannot be ...... yet in my opinion, that certain periods have been particularly autogenic, and that for instance, present times rather have set the character rather than…..genic.
As you know, ........mountains ….. is nowadays in its infancy, for instance, the .... .. strains in California, the East Indian Archipelago and the Antilles of America are still partly or entirely covered by the sea. Since the autogenic development is in such dominance of the geo-chemical processes. In the volcanoes, for instance, much carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, coming from the volcanic exhalations. Autogenesis brings materials for life as carbon dioxide which promotes photo-synthesis and the enhancement of oxygen in the atmosphere. In this way it may be said that autogenesis has given our planet oxygen in its atmosphere, In other words,…..the earth with….. of life, oxygen being atmosphere.

In Finland the granites are older than the prevalent granites of 1,800 millions of years. This group is also found in rather large areas. They are all found to be about 1,620 millions of years old. The age determinations by various other methods based upon the degree of decay of the radioactive minerals were executed at Lamont Observatory here in New York, by a young geologist from Finland named….. He did his work here about 1957, but his work was published in 1958. These determina-tions with closely similar values appear to be the most dependable existing at present.

In conclusion I would like to add a few words about the early evolution of life, thinking that many of you, like myself, might be interested in this subject. Life, to be sure, also belongs to the scope of geology, being an important factor in etiologic processes, as the product of the same factors. That also influenced the….. processes. It may also be remembered that it was the Finnish geologist J. J. Saderholm who found in the….. area in Finland the first supposed…. fossil that he called….. Enigmaticum. Saderholm seems to have thought that the….. had originally been vesicular leaves of ancient algae. If this was the case, this is not quite certain, plants probably belonged to some very primitive group and was perhaps not yet capable of photosynthesis.
In…… appear as darker and elongated rings actually in….. carbon in the inside of the rings and surrounding rocks........ a Finnish geologist also has for several years been working here in the United States, in the eastern states, in New York and in Chicago, investigating the…..carbon, finding it to be in its….. ratio, C13 to C129,….. to the plant carbon, to inorganic carbon. The same is true of the carbon that is very commonly present as bands or streams in ...... and leptides of Finland. The quantity of this type of carbon is rather considerable, some 0.1% or a little more. B. Olson and another young scientist in Finland lately, a few years ago, investigated recent equivalence of the….., finding such ...... at the lake shores in Northern Finland. They are in inside regions in sands, or fine sand, in clay-like material, and the……are covered with plant remains of various kinds.

This is what I had to tell you about the evolution of the earth and its life. I am glad to know that this does not ….. you anything that you didn't know before. That is all that at present can be said about the evolution of the earth and its life.

P.E. Eskola




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