Hooke had already developed an interest the fossils to be found in limestone during his childhood investigating the coast of the Isle of Wight charachterized as it is by erosion. The death of his mother in June 1665 required him to return again to the Island after a long absence to sort out the details, from the beginning of October 1665 until January 1666. He used this time to study the geological structures and to collect fossils. In 1667 he bega a series of lectures on geology to the the Royal Society which stretched, taking into account interrupriond, over more than thirty and were published posthumously as Discourses of Earthquakes in 1705.

Contrary to what was believed by most of his contemporaries, for Hooke fossils were not a quirk of nature but petrified living creatures. As a few of the fossils bore no resemblance to existing creatures, he came to the conclusion that they must be extinct lifeforms. He speculated over whether changes of climate, soil or food could lead to the formation of new types. Through his observations, Hooke was sure that the earth must be older the age derived from James Ussher of about 6000 years and that the length of the biblical flood was too short to explain the geological form of the Earth. Since, according to his belief, fossils came into being through sedimentation processes in the sea, he sought for processes which could explain the raising of these layers, and consider3ed earthquakes to to be a possible explanation. Hooke suspected further that there was a cyclic exchange of land and sea areas. He assumed that a polar attaction force associated with a pole wandering of the Earth's axis would be able to cause this exchange.

Ellen T. Drake, who has examined Hooke's geological work, proceeds to say that his ideas influenced Nicolaus Steno and James Hutton, both of whom are considered to be a "Father of Geology". Arthur Percival Rossiter even nominated him in 1935 as the "first English Geologist".

John Wallis, Savilian Professor of Geometry (at Oxford), opposed his geological ideas


In 1692 there was an earthquake in Kent