Georgius Agricola's contributions to hydrology

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4 Scopus citations


Georgius Agricola's 1546 book De Ortu et Causis Subterraneorum (On the Source and Causes of What is Underground) was the first European work since antiquity to focus on hydrology and helped to shape the thought of Nicolaus Steno, Pierre Perrault, A.G. Werner, and other important figures in the history of hydrology and geology. De Ortu contains the first known expressions of numerous concepts important in modern hydrology: erosion as an active process, groundwater movement through pores and fissures, hydrofracturing, water-rock reaction, and others. The concepts of groundwater origins, movement, and nature in De Ortu were also the foundation for the theories of ore deposit formation for which Agricola is better known. In spite of their importance, most of Agricola's contributions to the study of groundwater are unrecognized today because De Ortu, alone of his major works, has never been translated out of Latin and no existing vernacular summary of it is longer than two pages. This article presents the first detailed description of Agricola's work on hydrology and discusses the derivation and impact of his ideas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-849
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • De ortu et causis subterraneorum
  • Georgius agricola
  • Groundwater
  • History of hydrology
  • Steno

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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