Actualistic method (principle of actualism)

ACTUALISTIC METHOD (PRINCIPLE OF ACTUALISM) (from the late Latin word "actualis", which means "modern", "really existing" * EN: actualism; DE: Aktualismus, Actualitatsprinzip; FR: actualisme; ES: analisis de actualismo; RU: актуалистический метод) is the method of the scientific cognition of the geological history of the Earth, of the reconstruction of the processes and environments of the past times, through the usage of the tendencies, which have been uncovered during the study of the modern geological processes.

It is necessary to consider the evolution of the Earth during the usage of the actualistic method, and therefore, the specificity of the geological environments and processes at the various periods in its history. The older are the depositions, the less applicable is the actualistic method; while at the same time it can provide quite reliable results for the Phanerozoic, and especially for the Cenozoic. The actualistic method is most effective in the area of the lithology (including the formation of the certain sedimentary minerals) and volcanology, partially in the tectonics and paleontology.

The actualistic method has been used by M.V.Lomonosov, but it has been substantiated and developed in the 1st half of the 19th century by Karl Hoff (Germany), and especially by Charles Lyell (United Kingdom). The later has used it as one of the elements of the concept of the uniformism. The term "actualism" has appeared in the German geological literature in the 2nd half of the 19th century and has become common in the 20s of the 20th century. There have made the great contribution into the development of the actualistic method the domestic scientists N.I.Andrusov, A.D.Arkhangelsky, N.M.Strakhov, as well as the foreign ones J.Walter and E.Kaiser (Germany), L.Kaye (France), and others.