First geological map of Britain, 1815
First geological map of Britain, detail of the north east coast (figure 8). This map was published in 1815 by British geologist William Smith (1769-1839). It shows rock layers (strata) in England and Wales and part of Scotland (key at lower left). Smith's work as a canal surveyor allowed him to study geology. He discovered that geological strata could be reliably identified at different places on the basis of the fossils they contained. Smith also proposed the principle of superposition, that if a strata overlays another then it was laid down at a later time. He is considered the father of English geology.
© NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sopwith Model III: Dislocation of strata
This model represents the side of a valley of denudation, with undisturbed horizontal beds of sedimentary rock when fully assembled. The model can also be taken apart to reveal the pattern of outcrops that would occur when faults are present. Significantly it illustrates how a single seam of coal, when subject to erosion and faulting, could outcrop in several areas and appear as multiple beds of coal. Thomas Sopwith (1803 - 1879) was an eminent geologist and civil engineer who pioneered methods of representing geological features. This set of wooden models were designed to represent geological situations with faults, folds, inclines and strata that were particularly relevant to the mining industry.
© Mary Evans / Natural History Museum
1838 William Smith father of UK Geology
William Smith (23 March 1769 - 28 August 1839) aged 69 from a painting by M.Foureau, engraved and first published in the "Memoirs" of W. Smith" 1844 with later tinting. Smith was a self taught English geologist who, though not appreciated until late in life, is now seen as the father of English Geology. In 1815 he published the first large scale coloured map of the geology of the UK. It showed the various rock types and is quite accurate even by today's standards. He also drew pioneering geological cross sections of Britain showing the strata. His maps were plagiarised and, because of his relatively humble origins, he was not at first admitted into the learned societies. He suffered financial hardship, spending time in debtor's prison and working as an itinerant surveyor. Sir John Johnstone employed him and, realising his accomplishments, finally lead Smith to acceptance and honours.
© This image is copyright Paul D. Stewart 2009. Do not reproduce without permission of the photographer at Stewartpauld@aol.com.