Definition of catastrophism in US English:



  • The theory that changes in the earth's crust during geological history have resulted chiefly from sudden violent and unusual events.

    Often contrasted with uniformitarianism
    • ‘He rejected any notion of regional or global catastrophism; earthquakes, volcanoes and floods in the past were no more frequent or powerful on average compared to those in the present.’
    • ‘The idea paved the way for the widespread acceptance of Alvarez's theory about the demise of the dinosaurs and heralded a return to the ideas of catastrophism.’
    • ‘This catastrophism was, on the evidence available, an attractive idea, but there was no discussion of the source of the energy to bring these upheavals about, nor any explanation of why and where they occurred as they did.’