Walter Penck



This paper was my first serious academic publication and I was delighted when it was accepted in 1962 for the leading academic publication, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. At the time it was highly controversial. It cast doubt on the reliability of the former Harvard geology professor, William Morris Davis, whose cycle of erosion doctrine appeared in all the established textbooks and was regarded as sacred. Erosion was supposed to wear rugged mountains down to smoothly graded slopes, eventually producing a gentle, rolling peneplain which might be uplifted again to start a new cycle. There was a new and vigorous school of thought in South Africa, led by Professor Lester King. Steep slopes, King argued, were not worn down but retreat parallel to themselves. Walther Penck, an Austrian geologist, was cited in support of this. Thinking to prepare myself for work on a PhD I read Penck’s book and was amazed to find that Davis had completely misrepresented him. As my title suggests, there was need for a new review of Penck’s work.

I was diverted into this and never got back to my PhD.












Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.