Self Help

Map That Changed the World - Simon Winchester

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Matheus Puppe

· 58 min read

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Here is a summary of key points about Simon Winchester’s book “The Map That Changed the World”:

  • The book tells the story of William Smith, known as the “Father of English Geology”, and his creation of the first geological map of England, Wales and parts of Scotland in 1815.

  • Smith made the pioneering discovery that rock formations were laid down in a specific sequential order and that fossils could be used to identify the ages of different rock strata. This enabled him to map the distribution of rock types across Britain.

  • His map was groundbreaking as it was the first time the relationships between strata and the geographic distribution of rock formations was visually represented. This established the basic principles of stratigraphy and geological mapping.

  • The map took Smith nearly 20 years to complete as he worked alone conducting extensive field surveys on canals, roads and quarries across Britain. It showed the varying rock formations, coalfields, marshlands and soils.

  • Though initially met with skepticism, Smith’s map was later validated and came to be recognized as revolutionizing the fledgling science of geology. It helped enable the industrial mineral exploration that transformed Britain’s economy.

  • The book vividly describes Smith’s life and the challenges he faced gaining acceptance for his theories. It pays tribute to his groundbreaking scientific work and role in establishing the discipline of modern geology.

The passage describes an elaborate map completed in 1815 that revolutionized geology. Unique for its time, the map was conceived, imagined, and painstakingly created over many years entirely by one man - William Smith, a self-taught English surveyor and engineer. Despite facing immense challenges and setbacks, including sabotage by rivals intended to ruin his reputation, Smith persevered in his solitary effort with relentless vision, energy, commitment and patience. Though initially unsuccessful, the map established Smith as the founder of English geology and proved vital for science and industry. However, Smith experienced ruin and lived as a homeless man for years without recognition for his groundbreaking work. He was later rediscovered and celebrated, acknowledging his extraordinary achievement in creating the first accurate geological map through immense individual labor against all odds.

William Smith was an English geologist who helped establish the science of stratigraphy (the study of rock layers and the order in which they were formed). On an August morning in 1815, he was released from the King’s Bench Prison in London after spending time there due to debt.

Upon his release, Smith walked the 10 minutes to his home in Buckingham Street. However, when he arrived, he found that his landlords had repossessed the house while he was imprisoned. All his belongings and papers had been removed.

Ironically, the next day John Cary was publishing the second part of Smith’s Geological Atlas of England and Wales, a groundbreaking work that mapped the country’s geological strata for the first time. It helped establish geology as a science and paved the way for Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Disheartened by this latest setback, Smith decided to leave London, which he blamed for his financial troubles. He collected his wife and nephew, gathered what few possessions they had left, and took a stagecoach north to Yorkshire to look for work. Though imprisoned, his scientific discoveries could not be contained.

  • William Smith was born in 1769 in Churchill, Oxfordshire, England into a conservative society that held firm religious beliefs about the certain origins of the world and humanity.

  • At the time, most people accepted that God created the world in 6 days just over 6,000 years ago, as calculated based on biblical genealogies. This view was rigidly held in rural areas like where Smith grew up.

  • However, there were some skeptical views emerging among intellectual circles in London that questioned these religious origins and proposed alternatives, like the world being older than humanity. But these were still fringe ideas.

  • Smith was born into a world with theological certainty about origins, but one that was on the cusp of major scientific and technological changes that would eventually undermine those religious certainties.

  • Smith’s future geological discoveries documenting the ordered succession of rock strata and fossils would provide strong evidence supporting the idea that the world was far older than proposed by biblical chronology, triggering a collision between religion and science.

  • In 1769, three major developments suggested that industrialization and scientific progress were accelerating in Britain: James Watt was granted a patent for his improved steam engine, Josiah Wedgwood opened his large factory producing fine pottery, and Richard Arkwright invented the water frame for cotton spinning.

  • Across Britain, industries like iron, coal, ships, and textiles were advancing through new technologies and organized labor. Notable ironmasters were developing new production processes.

  • Social changes were also underway, like the enclosure of formerly common lands through Acts of Parliament to create enclosed fields and pastures. New livestock breeds and farming methods increased agricultural output.

  • As a result of factors like improved nutrition and hygiene, Britain’s population started to rise for the first time due to declining mortality rather than increasing birth rates.

  • However, Britain could no longer feed itself due to this growth. Other interconnected social and economic changes accompanied industrialization and improvements in living standards. Literacy, information sharing, and innovations in areas like furniture and fashion were spreading new ideas across Britain. This context set the stage for William Smith and new ways of thinking.

  • William Smith’s father died when he was 8 years old, leaving him and his siblings largely raised by his uncle who also farmed locally.

  • On his uncle’s farm, the dairymaid would use curious roundish stones found in nearby quarries as pound weights for butter scales, rather than metal weights.

  • As a boy, William took interest in these “bun stones” and began collecting them, noticing differences between them. This sparked his early fascination with geology.

  • At the time in the late 18th century, geology was still more associated with myths and mystery than a rigorous scientific discipline. However, a few surveyors, priests and fossil collectors had begun wondering if it could be used to inquire into fundamental questions about Earth’s origins challenging religious doctrine.

  • William would go on to help establish geology as a true science through his pioneering work on stratigraphy and mapping rock layers, laying foundations to understandEarth’s much older history than religious texts suggested. He made discoveries at a time when questioning religious beliefs could be seen as heresy.

The passage describes how William Smith, working on a dairy farm, took special interest in some unusual stones used as weights on the scales. Upon close examination, he realized the stones had intricate patterns and features resembling sea urchins. He learned they were fossils of extinct sea creatures.

Some details of the stones are provided, such as their rounded shape but some having five sides. They weighed about 22 ounces, what was called a “long pound.” Their outer surfaces had beautiful engraved lines and patterns.

Smith also noticed small spherical “marble” stones scattered in the fields. Upon inspection, they had a texture like orange peel with tiny holes, and resembled both acorns and Roman oil lamps. Living counterparts were found near the sea - they were a type of brachiopod that could open and close its two shells to feed.

While the stones served practical use on the farm, Smith was intrigued by their unusual features and seashell-like qualities. He came to understand they were fossils of echinoids and brachiopods that once lived in a tropical sea, long before the landscape emerged from the waters. His observations of the fossils helped spark his interest in geology.

In the 17th-18th centuries, objects found inside rocks like fossils were not recognized as such. They were called “figured stones” and their existence was assumed to reinforce God’s power, as they appeared to be miraculous stone replicas of living things. Early scientists proposed ideas like petrification fluids turned organic material to stone.

Some key points emerged that challenged this view: (1) Fossils represented extinct animals/plants. (2) They were found systematically in certain rock layers/regions, not randomly placed by God. (3) Careful observers like Hooke noted fossils passing through stages from fully organic to fully mineralized as they became embedded in rock over time.

This raised questions that religious explanations struggled with, like how fossils could be found high in mountains. A few bold thinkers, like Steno, started arguing fossils were actually remains of once-living creatures, transformed over immense time periods, an idea still dismissed by most scientists at the time due to views on subjects like Noah’s flood and the age of the earth. The true nature and implications of fossils were only beginning to be understood.

  • In the early 18th century, the Duke of Bridgewater had the idea to build canals to transport coal from his mines near Manchester more cheaply and efficiently. He completed the first canal in 1759.

  • This sparked “canal mania” as investors rushed to build new canals across Britain, seeing the potential for huge profits by slashing transport costs. Between 1760-1830, over 4,000 miles of canals were constructed.

  • Canals revolutionized trade and the economy. Goods could now be transported much more quickly over long distances via water, rather than roads which were often in poor condition. This allowed industries and trade to flourish across new regions connected by canals. Things like coal, food, drinks and manufactured goods became much cheaper and more accessible.

  • The main cargo carried on the canals was coal, which was in high demand to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Canals allowed coal to be transported 80 times more efficiently than by road. This massively grew the coal mining industry.

  • Overall, the canal network built on the initiative of the Duke of Bridgewater transformed Britain’s economy and trade by providing a fast, cheap and reliable bulk transport system that was the backbone of industry and development during this era.

Coal was first excavated and used in northern Somerset, England in the 13th century, however mining was limited. In the late 1700s, exploration uncovered sizable coal seams hundreds of feet below ground near the villages of Radstock. This sparked a coal rush, as the potential of the resource was realized. The geology of the area, having undergone tectonic plate collisions millions of years ago, made extracting the coal difficult and distorted the seams. Mining expanded dramatically nonetheless to supply the growing industrial cities and factories nearby. While this brought economic opportunity, it also industrialized formerly rural villages and landscapes with mining infrastructure, noise and pollution - prioritizing profit over the existing pastoral way of life. The canal was seen as key to making the expensive-to-mine Somerset coal competitive by providing cheap transportation.

  • William Smith was an apprentice surveyor from Oxfordshire who showed an early interest in geology and the landscape. He learned surveying skills from Edward Webb and traveled with him on projects.

  • In 1792, a new canal was proposed in Somerset to transport coal more cheaply and compete with coal coming from South Wales via a new canal. William Smith was appointed surveyor to plan the route of the Somerset coal canal.

  • The canal was built between 1794-1795 but fell into disuse relatively quickly. This period saw the construction of many canals across Britain during the “canal mania.”

  • As a young apprentice, Smith had met the former governor of India Warren Hastings while surveying the landscape of Hastings’ estate in Worcestershire. Smith recorded his impressions of Hastings as a “gouty great man” embroiled in an impeachment trial at the time.

  • Through his surveying work, Smith gained extensive knowledge of British geology and was able to make some of the earliest maps delineating different rock formations, laying the foundations for modern geologic mapping.

  • William Smith was living and working in High Littleton, Somerset in the late 1780s-1790s. He was employed by Lady Elizabeth Jones to survey her estate and do landscaping work.

  • Smith lived at Rugborne Farm, a large manor house in High Littleton rented from Lady Jones. This is where he began his geological work.

  • Smith first worked at the Mearns Pit coal mine, about a mile from Rugborne Farm. This is where he began carefully observing the rock strata and fossil patterns in the underground mine tunnels.

  • Through his work in the Mearns Pit mine, Smith was able to deduce that rock formations and fossil types occur in a consistent order. This was a breakthrough in the development of geology as a scientific discipline. He realized rock strata could be used like geological maps to identify the age of different rock layers.

  • However, neither the Mearns Pit mine nor Rugborne Farm, which the author calls the “birthplace of geology”, have any commemorative plaques or acknowledgement of their importance in the history of the science today. They are just unremarkable places in the Somerset countryside.

  • William Smith first ventured into the Mearns Pit coal mine in Somerset in 1792 to survey the land. He noticed the layering and succession of different rock types in the mine shafts.

  • At first he saw horizontal layers of red marlstone and shale rocks. But then abruptly the rocks changed to thick, folded gray-brown sandstones below.

  • This represented an unconformity - a line where the lower rocks showed deformation like folding and faulting, while the upper rocks lay flat and undisturbed above.

  • Observing this geological discordance between the rock layers puzzled Smith. It went against the prevailing view that rock strata were uniformly laid down horizontally.

  • Contemporaneously, scientist James Hutton was formulating a theory to explain geological structures like unconformities, involving forces that lifted and deformed rocks over long periods.

  • Smith’s initial observations at Mearns Pit helped kickstart his realization that rock strata could be used to identify the relative age of rock formations, setting him on the path to developing the principles of stratigraphy.

  • William Smith was a surveyor working in the Somerset Coalfield in England in the late 1700s. As he explored mines and quarries, he made important geological observations.

  • He noticed that sedimentary rock layers, including coal seams, were arranged in a predictable repeating pattern from top to bottom. Each layer contained distinctive fossil types.

  • The order and fossil content of the layers remained consistent no matter where in the coalfield they were found. For example, the Temple Cloud coal seam was always situated above the Newbury No.2 seam.

  • Based on this, Smith realized he could predict the underground arrangement of rock layers in unexplored areas of the coalfield simply by examining their surface exposures and fossil contents.

  • He wrote down this theory - that rock layers deposited at the same time in the same environment would be repeated in a consistent order, identifiable by their fossil assemblages. This allowed correlation of strata across wide areas.

  • This was a fundamental breakthrough, establishing the principles of stratigraphy and geological mapping that became the basis for modern geology. It allowed reliable predictions about subsurface geology.

William Smith was surveying land for the proposed Somerset Coal Canal. As the land was cut open and the canal built, it would expose rock strata for him to examine. Smith believed that certain identifying characteristics of rocks, like fossils, could be used to correlate and map different strata.

The local miners were skeptical that patterns observed in the coal measures would apply elsewhere. But Smith was determined to test his theory by examining the newly exposed rocks along the canal route. He hoped this would allow him to confirm that distinct rock strata could be traced over long distances based on their composition and fossils.

If successful, it would mean he could accurately predict and map the underground geology simply by surface observations. This would be a revolutionary new way to understand the hidden structure of the land. The canal project gave Smith a unique opportunity to cut open a large swath of countryside and see if his fundamental insight about correlating and mapping strata held true. His job surveying the proposed Somerset Coal Canal was the chance he needed to finally prove or disprove his groundbreaking new geological ideas.

The passage describes William Smith’s work surveying the route for the Somerset Coal Canal in 1792. As a young, self-educated man, Smith was hired by renowned engineer John Rennie to help with the initial survey. Rennie was impressed with Smith and soon gave him the full-time job of surveyor and engineer for the entire canal project.

This was a pivotal opportunity for Smith. By slowly surveying the proposed canal route from west to east, slicing through the English countryside, he was able to closely examine the area’s geology. He noticed that the landscape gradually changed from less attractive industrial areas in the west to more beautiful rural scenery in the east.

Through his exploration, Smith began to realize the landscape variations correlated with the underlying rock formations, which dipped eastward. As he worked his way along the proposed canal route from the coal mines in the west to Limpley Stoke in the east, he passed through different rock types in the proper order, from younger to older. This survey work allowed Smith to test his growing theory that rock formations were ordered and could be used to accurately predict subsurface geology, a revolutionary idea at the time. The canal project provided Smith with invaluable experience that launched his pioneering career in geology.

  • William Smith was a surveyor working on a proposed canal system in Somerset, England in the 1790s. As part of his work surveying potential routes, he made observations about the order and structure of rock layers.

  • He noticed that as the canal routes went southeast, lower rock layers would emerge from underneath higher ones. This led him to realize the layers generally dipped in that direction.

  • The double-branched canal system being proposed, with two near-parallel routes, allowed Smith to confirm his observations by checking one route against the other.

  • His work surveying the two parallel branches was what helped him first notice and make conclusions about the order and direction of dipping rock strata. This was a breakthrough realization for him.

  • However, he was unsure at first if his ideas applied more broadly. To test this, he joined a brief expedition touring other canal projects, covering over 900 miles, hoping to see if his theories held true in other areas.

  • On this trip, Smith was still reluctant to share his emerging ideas with his traveling companions, anxious that others may have already thought of them or that he might be proven wrong. The trip would help determine if his stratigraphic principles applied more widely.

William Smith was traveling through England on a tour with two businessmen, Perkins and Palmer, who were interested in finding new areas for coal mining and transportation. Smith was also studying the geology along the way, often stopping to examine rock outcrops and collect specimens. He kept his geological theories to himself during the trip.

The group visited several areas of geological interest, including canal tunnels where Smith spent a long time observing the rock layers. He began openly discussing rocks and stratigraphy with Perkins and Palmer, though they did not seem very interested. Some accounts say Smith first shared his ideas about the order and patterns of rock strata while the group was visiting York Minster. He explained how the appearance of hills in the distance could indicate their geological composition, and how rocks in different areas were arranged in similar sequences. This was an early insight toward his discovery that fossils and rock strata can be used to correlate layers across broad regions. Overall, the trip allowed Smith to extensively study geology firsthand and begin developing his revolutionary stratigraphic methods.

  • William Smith is explaining his theory of geological stratigraphy to Roger Palmer and Dr. Perkins during a trip in Yorkshire.

  • He uses his and Palmer’s hands to illustrate how the oldest rock layers are on the bottom and dip towards the southeast, with the youngest layers on top.

  • Looking at the landscape, Smith points out how the different rock types like limestone, red sandstone, and chalk appear in the expected order based on his theory of stratigraphic succession from oldest to youngest.

  • Palmer congratulates Smith on his notable discovery of the basic principles of stratigraphy. This conversation on top of York Minster is considered the birthday of the science of stratigraphy, though the precise date is unknown.

  • The narrative then describes Smith returning to Bath and his work on canal construction, though he longs to further develop his geological ideas. He moves residences a few times near the canal works for convenience.

  • Eventually he purchases a small estate called Tucking Mill House, which is an appropriate place for him given it involves cloth fulling near a mill. This establishes him in the countryside he prefers over Bath.

  • William Smith lived in Tucking Mill House near Bath, England in the late 1700s. The house was named after a process that involved Fuller’s Earth clay, which was found in the geological strata Smith was excavating for a canal and happened to absorb oil - bringing a symmetry to his living situation.

  • At Tucking Mill House, Smith set up a room to house and organize his growing collection of fossils from the local area and his travels. He realized fossils could be used to identify and map different geological strata.

  • In the 18th century, collecting fossils was a mark of refinement in Britain. Many prominent men displayed fossils in specially built glass cabinets. Studying fossils helped advance ideas that led to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

  • A famous early British female fossil collector was Mary Anning from Lyme Regis, who made important ichthyosaur and plesiosaur discoveries as a young girl. She struggled financially later in life despite contributing to the field.

  • Another female collector was Etheldred Bennett, who met William Smith and focused on the Greensand formation in Wiltshire. She had her heart fossilized after her death.

  • Most collectors were affluent gentlemen displaying fossils as a fashionable hobby. Networks of collectors helped discoveries spread. Studying fossils provided insights into earth history.

  • Earle Valentine Wood was an amateur paleontologist in the 19th century England who studied fossil mollusks found in London construction sites. He was a member of the London Clay Club and wrote many books on his large fossil collection, which he eventually donated to the British Museum (now Natural History Museum).

  • Many amateur fossil collectors at the time were clergymen (“divines”), though studying fossils would later contradict religious ideas like a literal interpretation of Genesis. Figures like Reverend Thomas Lewis and Reverend George Young made important paleontological discoveries.

  • Young discovered an ichthyosaur fossil in 1819 but struggled to reconcile this with extinction and evolution, which contradicted the Bible. He proposed in 1840 that the species may still exist, to avoid these implications.

  • Samuel Woodward was another amateur collector from Norfolk who pursued paleontology passionately despite humble origins.

  • William Smith’s interest in stratigraphy developed as he interacted with learned collectors like William Cunnington, Reverend Richard Warner, and Reverend Joseph Townsend through his new social connections in the 1790s. These men helped shape his breakthroughs in recognizing rock formations based on their fossil sequences.

  • The sea in the Middle Jurassic period, around 152 million years ago, was warm and subtropical along the edges of the Tethyan Ocean. However, it was not uniformly deep and at times was near landmasses with rivers, estuaries, volcanoes and cliffs depositing different rock types.

  • Paleogeography involves understanding how physical conditions like rock type deposits can vary by place and time. The same rock types could be deposited in different places over long periods of time.

  • William Smith was a key figure who realized that distinctive fossils found within specific rock layers could be used to identify and correlate rock formations in different locations. This was a breakthrough in understanding earth’s history and development.

  • Smith meticulously collected and cataloged fossils over many years, confirming his theory that unique fossil assemblages were signatures that identified specific rock layers formed at a certain time. This allowed accurate correlation of rock formations across regions.

  • Smith is credited as the first person to fully realize the principle that fossils can be used to identify and correlate rock layers, a fundamental concept in geology. His work provided the basis for understanding earth’s layered history recorded in the rock record.

The passage describes how William Smith first got the idea to create geological maps. As a member of the Bath Philosophical Society, Smith interacted with other scientists and intellectuals in the late 1700s. He was introduced to the idea of mapping by John Billingsley and Thomas Davis, who created agricultural maps showing soil and vegetation types in different colors.

This gave Smith the idea to use colors to represent different rock formations on a geological map. He started by using an existing map of Bath as a base, and colored in areas to indicate where different rock strata like oolite, Lias, and red marl were located underground based on his surveys. This was the first time anyone had visually depicted the unseen geological structures below the surface in map form. Smith’s colorful geological map of Bath, published in 1799, was a breakthrough that showed the potential of using maps to represent the distribution of rock formations. This innovative approach laid the foundation for the development of modern geological mapping.

The passage summarizes the creation of one of the earliest geological maps by William Smith in 1799. Some key details:

  • Smith surveyed the area around Bath, England and produced a map identifying the outcrops of three main rock types. Though basic, it was a pioneering early geological map.

  • In 1799, Smith showed Benjamin Richardson how to order Richardson’s fossil collection in proper geological succession based on rock strata and age. This was a breakthrough in understanding that fossils could be used to identify rock layers.

  • Encouraged by Joseph Townsend, Smith correctly predicted the rock layers and fossils that would be found on Dundry Hill, proving his theories.

  • At a dinner party afterwards, Smith dictated to Townsend the first published table laying out geological strata in proper succession based on their distinctive fossils. This was a foundational work in establishing stratigraphy and the principles of geology.

So in summary, the passage outlines Smith’s key early work that helped establish geological mapping and the use of fossils to determine the relative ages of rock formations - work that is still foundational in geology today.

  • William Smith and two other men (Joseph Townsend and Benjamin Richardson) met in Bath, England one evening to document the order and composition of rock layers in the local area.

  • Smith described 23 different rock strata ranging from chalk at the top down to coal at the bottom. Some were given formal names while others were just described by their composition.

  • One of the key observations was noticing a boundary between the Millstone bed and Pennant Stone where fossil types changed from only animal remains below to only plant remains above, indicating an important geological transition period.

  • This was the first ever documented record of rock strata and their order, establishing geology as a science independent from religious doctrine. It allowed for new understanding and exploration of the Earth’s subsurface.

  • They finished the document at midnight and called it the “Order of the STRATA and their embedded ORGANIC REMAINS, in the vicinity of BATH; examined and proved prior to 1799.” Copies were widely distributed.

  • However, soon after this pivotal meeting, Smith lost his stable job with the Somerset Coal Canal Company, threatening his financial security and independence just as his fame was rising. He was now reliant on freelance mineral surveying work.

Here is a summary of the key points about John Cary and his atlases:

  • John Cary was a pioneering British mapmaker in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He created highly accurate and elegant maps that were a major improvement over the complicated maps of the time.

  • His first atlas, called The New and Correct English Atlas, was published in 1787 and became enormously popular. It was considered an essential reference work for many households well into the 19th century.

  • Cary did extensive surveying work on foot to map all the main roads of England and Wales for the General Post Office. This resulted in his influential New Itinerary atlas published in 1798.

  • Due to high demand, the printing plates for Cary’s atlases had to be re-engraved multiple times as they became worn out. His clear, accurate maps set a new standard and established Cary’s preeminent reputation as a mapmaker of his era. Simply requesting a “Cary” meant obtaining one of his definitive atlases.

  • Cary collaborated with geologist William Smith in the 1790s, engraving Smith’s early geological mapping work which helped establish the new field of geological cartography in Britain.

The passage discusses William Smith’s creation of the first geological map of England in 1801 and the early plagiarism and threats of plagiarism he faced. It summarizes how Smith accurately mapped the distribution of sedimentary rock formations across England based on his detailed observations and fossil collections.

The passage then discusses how Smith was one of the first to be warned about potential plagiarism, with a friend advising him to publish his ideas to secure credit. It suggests a clergyman named Richard Warner may have been looking to steal Smith’s work. The passage provides examples of Warner later directly copying maps and diagrams from Smith’s work without attribution.

While Smith did not complain about these early instances, the passage notes this foreshadowed the greater plagiarism and “pilfering” of his work he would later face, which ultimately contributed to his financial troubles. It discusses how this experience left Smith bitter toward the London scientific establishment. Finally, the passage outlines how Smith’s expertise with canals led to important introductions with aristocrats who sponsored his early work.

The passage describes William Smith’s career transitioning from a surveyor and canal engineer to a drainage engineer in England during the late 1700s-early 1800s. As a canal engineer, Smith gained expertise in keeping water contained where needed. This led farmers to hire him to drain marshes and farmland.

One such farmer was Thomas Crook, who hired Smith after seeing his successful drainage work for James Stephens’ farm. Crook then invited the influential agriculturist Thomas Coke to inspect the drained land. This meeting was valuable for Smith’s career. Coke was a pioneering “improving farmer” who experimented with new farming techniques.

Coke recommended Smith to another important landowner, Francis Russell, the Duke of Bedford. Smith did extensive drainage work on the Duke’s large estates. He also worked draining lands for Coke at Holkham estate. These projects prepared previously unproductive lands for productive farming and sculpted the tidy countryside still seen today. Smith’s skills in drainage engineering thus helped enable England’s agricultural improvements during the enclosure period.

This passage summarizes William Smith’s early career and experiences trying to publish the first geological map of England and Wales in the early 19th century. Some key points:

  • Smith was starting to gain recognition and make useful connections with the aristocracy through his work, though he was still seen as relatively low-status.

  • He published a prospectus in 1801 outlining plans to publish a book detailing England’s geological strata, hoping to gain 2000 subscribers at 2 guineas each.

  • Publisher John Debrett seemed interested at first but struggled financially. Delays and disagreements arose over money.

  • Debrett went bankrupt twice, sinking Smith’s hopes of the book being published. This was a major setback after over a decade of work.

  • However, it drove Smith to accept more commissions for work around the country, gaining experience and building his reputation, even if he couldn’t publish his findings yet. The passage outlines his early career struggles and rise in geological circles.

The passage describes the author’s childhood memories of walking from a convent boarding school in Bridport, Dorset to the seaside. They would walk through hilly countryside formed from Jurassic sediments like honey-colored sandstone. The steep, winding lanes felt like trenches.

After a tiring climb, they would emerge at the summit and see the English Channel. They would run downhill toward the sea, feeling refreshed by the salty breeze. They would spend hours swimming and playing in the surf until it began getting late.

As the sun lowered, the children would play in the sand. It was during one such lazy aftermath that the author found his first Jurassic fossil - a small, reddish ammonite about an inch and a half across. He was fascinated by the delicate relic from an ancient sea. Years later, he came across another boy who had also admired the ammonite fossil. This memory inspired the author to return to the place where he found it, knowing that William Smith had explored the same area.

The passage describes a journey the author takes along the coast of England, retracing steps of William Smith, a geologist from the early 19th century. Smith had walked from Dorset to Yorkshire, mapping the geology along the way.

The author starts in Dorset, near where they went to school. They hope that by taking the same journey as Smith, they can gain insight into his pivotal role in mapping different rock layers and establishing geology as a science.

Though the modern landscape looks very different, the author finds the basic underlying geology remains the same. Walking east along the coast, they can see progressively younger rock layers exposed in the cliffs. This demonstrates geological time and how Smith realized the layers were deposited in chronological order.

Near their old school in West Bay, Dorset, the author examines East Cliff - a dramatic rock formation Smith would have studied. They search for fossils as they did in their youth but have no luck. The passage reflects on debates about ammonite fossils and their ability to swim. The goal is to experience a bit of what Smith encountered and appreciate his groundbreaking work.

  • Leioceras opalinum is a small, smooth, reddish ammonite fossil that marks the boundary between the Lower and Middle Jurassic periods in England. It indicates a time 178 million years ago.

  • William Smith, the father of English geology, studied this fossil extensively as a key to unlocking the secrets of Jurassic stratigraphy.

  • The author reminisces about finding such a fossil as a child and wishing they still had it. They reflect on the connection it provides to Smith’s work.

  • The passage then provides geological context, explaining the transitions between periods in Britain over millions of years, from the Carboniferous to the end of the Triassic when life re-emerged abundantly in the seas of the Jurassic.

  • The Jurassic geology of England is outlined, including the influence of landmasses on rock formations in different areas like Dorset, known for its cyclothems and distinctive rock layers with evocative names.

  • Titanites giganteus was one of the largest ammonites found in the British Jurassic, reaching up to 3 feet in diameter. Its fossilized shells could occasionally be found as part of the building stone.

  • The famous Jurassic oyster Ostrea acuminata is also mentioned. Small crushed and flattened fossil specimens of this oyster were found incorporated into some ancient limestone building materials in the region.

  • In general, the limestone used for many historic buildings in this area of England came from Middle Jurassic quarries a few miles away. This limestone, often oolitic in nature, formed durable and attractive building materials that contributed to the distinctive regional architectural styles. Fossils were sometimes observable within the stonework.

The passage describes the durable stone bridges and buildings constructed from Middle Jurassic Great Oolite limestone in the Cotswolds region of England. The warm honey and red colors of weathered oolite stone give entire villages an architectural cohesion and charm. Oolite has also been used to construct distinctive cities like Bath and Oxford.

It notes some differences in the oolite deposits, including color and texture variations. A quarry owner near Northleach displays and sells different types of oolite stone. A rare and thin-bedded variety called “Stonesfield slate” or “pendle” was used for roofing and could only be quarried when frost caused the stone to fracture.

The quarries at Stonesfield were also famous for the abundance of fossils found embedded in the slate, including dinosaurs, fish and plants. Geologists would visit the quarries on weekends hoping to find specimens.

As the passage travels north, the Middle Jurassic deposits disappear around Market Weighton due to an area of uplifted ground during the period. Several villages in this region lack the characteristic buildings and fields of the oolite region to the south.

  • William Smith embarked on creating the first geological map of England and Wales in 1802, taking 14 years to complete. It was an immense undertaking, requiring him to travel tens of thousands of miles and study over 50,000 square miles of terrain on his own.

  • The task required immense vision, patience, strength and stamina to imagine and map the underground geological structures from surface evidence alone. It was pioneering work with no guides or precedents.

  • During his travels, Smith became a familiar figure stopping at inns, where he was known as “Strata Smith” for his passionate discussions of geology. He was strong-built with a stern expression.

  • Creating the map proved financially ruinous in the short term for Smith. When complete, others were able to copy and profit from his work while he received little recognition for years.

  • Smith was driven by both intellectual passion for geology and a desire for wider recognition of his discoveries in establishing the order and predictability of rock formations. The map was meant to showcase his systematic methodology.

  • By 1802 he had embarked on creating the definitive geological map, which would take his remaining productive years and career to complete at great personal cost.

  • William Smith was frustrated that his ideas and work were not gaining as much recognition and interest from the general public as he expected. He wanted to immortalize himself through creating an impressive work.

  • He saw an opportunity in creating the first geological map of England, as the recently formed Society of Arts had offered a prize for such a map. This gave him a financial incentive as well.

  • Landowners were also interested in his geological expertise to determine if their lands contained valuable mineral deposits like coal or lime.

  • John Farey became a key ally and supporter of Smith’s work, though they later had a falling out when Farey was commissioned for geological works rather than Smith.

  • Figures like Sir John Sinclair overlooked Smith in commissions due to class differences, as Smith was from a peasant background while these men were wealthy landowners.

  • Sir Joseph Banks became involved through his interest in the lead mines on his Derbyshire estate. He tried to mediate disputes between practical geologists like Smith and more amateur “gentleman geologists.”

  • Farey met William Smith at an agricultural gathering and was impressed by Smith’s ideas about using fossils to identify rock formations and create a geological map of Britain.

  • Farey encouraged Banks to support Smith’s work. In 1802, after exploring with Smith, Farey wrote Banks a letter explaining Smith’s advances in stratigraphy and urging Banks’ support.

  • Banks met with Smith and agreed to support publishing Smith’s map. However, this inspired Smith to take an expensive apartment in London, which proved financially imprudent.

  • Smith’s London building later caught fire and burned down. Undeterred, Smith then took an even larger and more expensive home in the prestigious Adelphi development, further straining his finances.

  • There, Smith had all his fossil collection moved to London to be housed and arranged, seeing it as establishing his official residence and symbolizing his important geological work. However, inside the home was modest, and the expensive London living proved a poor financial decision for Smith.

William Smith was living an extravagant lifestyle, constantly traveling for work and not having time to properly manage his household expenses. He was drained financially due to high taxes on his London property, which had empty rooms but no furnishings or comforts as he was rarely home.

His work as an engineer kept him constantly traveling all over England for various drainage, mining and infrastructure projects. He examined sites, advised landowners, and frequently had to disappoint wealthy clients by telling them mining ventures were not viable.

Though skilled, his book on drainage did not earn him money. A potential role mapping with the army did not materialize. Most hurtfully, he was not invited to join the new prestigious Geological Society of London in 1807, despite his significant contributions to the field, which damaged his professional standing.

Financially stretched and facing setbacks professionally, Smith’s personal life also seemed to be suffering difficulties at this later, wiser time when he looked back on this period in his potential autobiography. The consequences of his constant travel and lack of household management were financial strain.

  • William Smith was in deep financial trouble, having lost most of his family land and other property. He was forced to consider selling his only remaining asset, his mortgaged home, to stay afloat financially.

  • Around this difficult time, he made the ill-advised decision to get married to a woman named Mary Ann. Very little is known about her, but the marriage does not seem to have been a supportive one. She was often ill and became a burden on Smith.

  • Smith continued trying unsuccessfully to publish his geological work. He came up with ideas like a short book on Norfolk geology but nothing materialized. He was losing confidence in himself.

  • Things continued badly for 6 years until 1812. Smith had few friends left and little money, but he persisted in his geological travels and research.

  • In 1812, maps maker John Cary unexpectedly agreed to publish Smith’s map of British geology. This was a major turning point, as Cary’s support guaranteed the map would finally be published.

  • Over the next two years, Smith and Cary meticulously worked on the large and detailed geological map, with Smith providing all the geological information across England and Wales. By early 1813 the topographic outline was nearly complete.

  • In 1814, while passing a map shop owned by John Cary, William Smith saw that four completed sheets of his geological map of England were on display in the window. Smith was excited to show the sheets to Sir Joseph Banks, an early supporter of the project.

  • Banks was impressed and offered to support further. Within months, Smith was presenting the completed sheets to the Board of Agriculture, who also praised the work. Smith sent a prospectus to subscribers.

  • It took another 10 months for Smith to complete corrections and final coloring. He received accolades from the Prime Minister and the Duke of Norfolk upon formal presentations.

  • On August 1, 1815 the completed map was published and distributed to subscribers. It featured highly detailed and color-coded geological information across 400 numbered copies.

  • While the map was a scientific and artistic triumph, cementing Smith’s reputation, it came at a personal cost. In the years after its initial presentation in 1808, members of the Geological Society treated Smith poorly despite his groundbreaking discoveries, beginning a difficult period in his life.

  • George Bellas Greenough led a group from the Geological Society of London to visit William Smith and see his collection. Greenough was wealthy and politically connected but his maternal grandfather had been a quack apothecary.

  • The Geological Society had been formed just 6 months prior as a social and dining club for gentlemen with interests in geology and mineralogy. Most members were wealthy dilettantes, not professional scientists.

  • Smith was a practicing surveyor and mapmaker who had developed the idea of using fossils to determine the relative ages of rock formations. However, he did not come from the same upper-class background as the Society members.

  • During the visit, the Society members appeared bored and unimpressed by Smith’s collection, offering only brief courtesies before leaving quickly. Smith was surprised and disappointed, realizing the Society was not inclined to support him due to his lower social status and background. This visit was a humiliating experience that indicated Smith would not be invited to join the Society.

The passage summarizes that there was a divide between those who studied and developed theories of geology (ologists) and those who actually practiced geology and made discoveries through field work. It says that theory, or “ology”, was in the possession of academic men like Hall and Greenough of the Geological Society, while the practical work of geology was done by others, like William Smith. This led to a conflict between the theoretical geologists who did not properly recognize or credit the important practical work and discoveries of men like Smith.

  • William Smith pioneered geological fieldwork, stopping coaches and collecting specimens himself to map strata across England.

  • George Bellas Greenough took a different approach, interviewing locals like innkeepers and laborers to gather information while on excursions.

  • Greenough produced his own geological map of England over 13 years, copying extensively from Smith’s map without acknowledgment.

  • When Greenough’s map was published in 1819, it undercut the price of Smith’s map and confused potential buyers, further ruining Smith financially.

  • Critics felt Greenough’s map contained little that was new and did not advance geological science.

  • It took nearly 50 years for the Geological Society to fully acknowledge Smith’s pioneering work by adding his name to future editions of their map.

So in summary, the passage describes how Greenough effectively plagiarized Smith’s pioneering geological map work but it took decades for Smith to receive proper credit for his groundbreaking contributions.

The passage describes the vast fossil collection housed in cabinets and drawers at the Natural History Museum in London. It contains over 9 million fossils ranging from single-celled organisms to complex plants and animals, making it one of the finest paleontological collections in the world. Researchers come from around the world to study the collection.

Most fossils have been carefully organized by age and type into the drawers. However, some important historic collections have been kept intact, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. One such intact collection occupies 29 drawers - the extensive collection amassed over 30 years by geologist William Smith while traveling and working.

Unlike other collectors who donated their collections later in life, Smith sold his collection of over 2,600 fossils and accompanying notes and sketches to the museum in 1818, when he was in desperate financial straits. Despite his success as a geologist and surveyor, various financial missteps and an unprofitable quarry venture left him in debt. The collection provided much needed funds but separated Smith from objects integral to his career and geological theories. It remains an important intact record of his pioneering work developing the science of stratigraphy.

  • William Smith’s quarry venture went bust, laying off workers and closing the railway. He realized he had spent hundreds and taken on new mortgages, all for nothing.

  • He was now married to a woman reportedly going insane. He also took in his orphaned nephew John Phillips to apprentice and help. Phillips’ school fees and expenses added to Smith’s financial troubles.

  • Twice in 1814, bailiffs came to Smith’s house demanding back taxes and rent, threatening prison. Sir Joseph Banks bailed him out.

  • By 1815, with the quarry failed and expenses piling up, Smith knew he had to sell his fossil collection, with Banks’ agreement.

  • Smith began negotiations with the government to buy the collection. Several officials inspected the collection but there was no initial offer.

  • After weeks waiting, the government offered £100 as an advance, which Smith reluctantly accepted. Further negotiations resulted in an offer of £500 total, paid in installments, disappointing Smith.

  • It took over a year but Smith finally delivered the 2,657 fossil specimens to the British Museum in 1816. The collection brought both recognition and continued financial struggles for Smith.

William Smith was facing deep financial troubles by 1816. None of his attempts to temporarily alleviate his debts through selling assets or taking loans was effective for long. By the end of 1816, he no longer had his fossil collection and was still in debt. The situation was quickly worsening.

Despite these difficulties, Smith published two books in 1816-17 about classifying fossils. However, these publications did not improve his financial situation. Creditors were closing in on him aggressively. By early 1818, he was at risk of being arrested and imprisoned for debt unless he could pay what was owed. The Treasury provided temporary emergency payments of 30 and 70 pounds to prevent his arrest.

Smith turned down two lucrative job offers that could have rescued him financially - one in Russia overseeing coal mines, and another surveying rivers in North Carolina. He opted to remain in England facing his mounting debts. By doing so, he left himself exposed to further hardship under England’s harsh laws regarding debt imprisonment at that time. Unless debts were fully paid, imprisonment was seen as the only way to compel repayment or settlement. Smith was now at high risk of being arrested and incarcerated in one of London’s notorious debtors’ prisons.

Here is a summary of some key details about the debtors’ prisons in 1819 England provided in the passage:

  • The three main debtors’ prisons were the King’s Bench Prison, the Fleet Prison, and another prison, all privately owned and run for profit.

  • Prisoners had to pay fees to enter the prison and around 1 shilling per week for a basic unfurnished room. Those without money would be placed in communal dormitories called “chummages.”

  • Prisoners could pay more for private rooms and receive better treatment from wardens seeking to profit. They had some freedoms like living in surrounding “Rules” areas while in debtors’ prison.

  • The King’s Bench Prison where William Smith was imprisoned had 15-foot high brick walls topped with iron spikes, making it impossible to see inside from outside. Prisoners were given 9x9 foot cells if they paid.

  • Debtors’ prisons held mostly middle-class and prosperous debtors rather than criminals. Life inside could be comfortable with visitors, games, drinking, and even women brought in for pleasure for wealthy prisoners. It was more like a retreat than harsh punishment.

William Fitton was an Irish student of geology who was arrested in 1798 for carrying suspicious tools like a hammer and acid, but was released after Trinity College intervened. He later became a respected doctor in England while continuing his geological studies.

In 1817, Fitton arranged to meet William Smith and examine his revolutionary geological map and stratigraphy work. While Smith’s diary notes a planned meeting, it is unclear if Fitton actually came. A few papers were subsequently published trying to establish Smith’s credentials, but this initial effort did little to improve his financial situation or standing with the Geological Society.

It was not until the summer of 1818 that a wider audience started to take notice of Smith’s work, though still only a small number at first. Fitton continued working behind the scenes to promote Smith, which eventually led to his overdue recognition - though this happened just as Smith was facing his disastrous imprisonment for debt in 1819. Fitton played a key role in Smith’s story by working to advocate for him among the scientific establishment in London.

The passage describes William Smith’s difficult period from 1818-1825 after being released from prison. While William Fitton published a glowing review of Smith’s work in 1818, praising his contributions to geology, it did little to improve Smith’s situation. He was bankrupt, lost his home, and became a wanderer in northern England for the next 7 years.

He took odd jobs and temporarily lodged in various towns, pursuing his geological studies along the way. Though he saw some old acquaintances, he had no stable home or family life. Two places stood out that he became fond of - Scarborough, where he helped improve the water supply and found an appreciative audience for his geology, and Yorkshire, where he completed a detailed geological map.

Overall though, this period was unsettled and unstable for Smith as he struggled financially after his earlier successes and imprisonment. The passage provides biographical details of Smith’s movements and mindset during these difficult years as a displaced wanderer, highlighting both his continuing geological work and personal hardships.

  • William Smith became the land steward for Sir John Vanden Bempde Johnstone at Hackness Hall in Yorkshire in 1828. He lived comfortably for 6 years on the estate.

  • Sir John was a supporter of geology and natural history. He hired Smith to help apply geological knowledge to improve his farms.

  • Smith was able to focus on his writing and research during this time, producing a detailed geological map of the Hackness estate.

  • Visiting geologists made a point to stop at Hackness to see Smith and congratulate Sir John for caring for the renowned geologist.

  • In 1826, William Vernon visited and may have first suggested that Smith’s contributions to geology deserved formal recognition.

  • Vernon wrote a letter to Roderick Murchison about this, starting the process that would lead to Smith finally gaining the credit and honors he was due for his pioneering work establishing the principles of geological stratigraphy.

  • This period at Hackness was a comfortable retirement for Smith and the start of his achievements being properly acknowledged by the geological community.

  • The passage describes an appeal to give financial support to a man named Smith who has dedicated his life to geological research but is now in poverty in his old age.

  • It suggests starting a subscription to purchase Smith a small annuity to prevent him from having to live in the poorhouse. It notes support could be found from prominent geologists like Dr. Buckland.

  • The Geological Society was initially dominated by an “old guard” oppositional to Smith, but a new generation of scientists directing the society accorded more honor to practical fieldwork.

  • By the 1820s this new elite was established, controversies shifted to geological matters, and prominent scientists like Sedgwick and Murchison directed affairs.

  • It discusses the first Wollaston Medal established in 1831 to honor geological research, one of the highest honors in the field though geology was then a new science compared to fields like chemistry.

  • The passage describes William Smith, known as the “Father of English Geology”, being awarded the first Wollaston Medal by the Geological Society of London in 1831.

  • Smith had faced resistance and criticism early in his career for promoting the idea that rock strata could be used to identify geologic periods and fossils to correlate rock layers across England.

  • In 1831, the new generation of British geologists, including Adam Sedgwick, Roderick Murchison, and William Buckland, recognized Smith’s seminal contributions and ensured he received the Wollaston Medal, the highest honor from the Geological Society.

  • The medal ceremony marked the reconciliation of Smith with the geological establishment after years of disputes. It celebrated Smith as the founder and pioneer of stratigraphic geology in Britain. Sedgwick proclaimed Smith “The Father of English Geology” in his award speech.

  • The passage depicts Smith’s delight at receiving long-awaited recognition towards the end of his career, as well as his peaceful retirement after spending decades advancing the new science of geology.

  • The passage describes William Smith, the “Father of English Geology”, in his later life as geology rapidly advanced beyond his understanding. He struggled to keep up and felt increasingly out of date.

  • However, he received many honors to recognize his contributions. In 1832 he was given the first Wollaston Medal by the Geological Society of London. He also received a £100 yearly pension from the British government.

  • In 1834, Trinity College Dublin awarded him an honorary doctorate degree. He enjoyed mingling with other distinguished scientists but may have felt out of place.

  • In 1838, Smith was on a four-person committee to select stone for rebuilding the Palace of Westminster after a fire. They recommended a type of limestone, but it proved poorly suited and corroded badly in London’s industrial environment.

  • While Smith received many honors late in life, the rapid advances in geology left him feeling he could no longer adequately contribute, though he remained passionately interested in the field.

  • The limestone chosen for the Houses of Parliament was heavily criticized, even dubbed “the worst ever used in the metropolis” by Charles Dickens.

  • There were rumors that the stone selection committee merely went on a pleasant summer junket instead of properly applying themselves to the important task.

  • Sir Henry de la Beche took the brunt of public criticism and had to testify before two select committees set up to prevent such an embarrassing fate for public buildings again.

  • William Smith was not blamed by anyone - his involvement was seen more as a sinecure or honorary position, as few expected him to actually do useful work on the committee.

  • Over time, the stone suffered from pollution and committees recommended replacement stones. The building is now reconstructed using Clipsham stone from Lincolnshire.

  • Ironically, Smith would have found humor in the stone originally criticized being replaced by one from the Jurassic formation he is renowned for mapping.

Here is a summary of key points about shales:

  • Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that are formed from clay and mud. They have a laminated and fissile structure.

  • Shales often contain fossils and are important for geological dating and stratigraphy. They can reveal much about past environments and climates.

  • Common minerals found in shales include quartz, calcite, feldspar, and clay minerals like illite and montmorillonite. The clay minerals help give shales their fissile nature.

  • Shales tend to be soft and break easily along thin laminations or parallel surfaces due to their ultra-fine grain size and layered composition. Their fissility allows them to be easily split.

  • Shales vary in color but are often gray, greenish-gray, or black in color due to their mineral and organic content. Colors can indicate different depositional environments.

  • Under high heat and pressure over geological time, shales can transform into slates or phyllites through metamorphism. But shales remain shales when only compressed without significant heat.

  • Shales can be important source rocks for petroleum and natural gas due to their ability to retain hydrocarbons generated during organic matter maturation.

Here is a summary of the key points about “ater” from the provided information:

  • Sedimentary - Rocks formed by the consolidation of sediments, usually organized into distinct layers or beds. Examples include shale, limestone, sandstone.

  • Seismic - Related to earth vibrations and earthquakes, both natural and man-made. Concerned with crustal movement and dynamics.

  • Shale - A fine-grained sedimentary rock formed from compacted clay or mud. It has distinct laminated layers.

  • Siltstone - A consolidated silt sediment, with particle sizes larger than clay but smaller than sand. Has a clay-like texture.

  • Slate - A metamorphic rock that was originally shale or mudstone. It has well-defined cleavage planes from extreme heat and pressure during metamorphism.

  • Taxonomy - The scientific classification of plants and animals, organized in a hierarchy of ranks (kingdom, phylum, class, etc.).

  • Tectonic - Related to major geological structures and deformations involving plate movements or collisions.

  • Unconformity - An erosional surface between two rock layers that indicates a break in the geological record.

  • Uniformitarianism - The geological principle that Earth’s geological processes operated in the past similarly to how they operate today. First proposed by James Hutton.

Here is a summary of the sources provided:

  • Stones of Marrakech by Elisabeth Gille is a 2000 book published by Harmony Books about her travels in Marrakech, Morocco.

  • Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould is a 1989 book from Penguin about the Burgess Shale fossil finds and implications for evolution.

  • The Regulated Pasture by John Grantham is a 1997 local history of common land in Chipping Norton, England.

  • British Regional Geology: Bristol and Gloucester Region by G.W. Green is a 1992 Geological Survey publication.

  • The Death of Adam by John C. Greene is a 1959 book from Iowa State University Press.

  • A British Regional Geology: Central England by B.A. Hains and A. Horton is a 1969 Geological Survey publication.

  • The Geology of Somerset by Peter Hardy is a 1999 book from Ex Libris Press with details on the geology of Somerset, England.

  • A Geological Time Scale 1989 edited by W.B. Harland et al. is a 1990 publication from Cambridge University Press presenting a time scale of geological periods.

  • A Land by Jacquetta Hawkes is a 1953 book from Cresset Press.

  • Reformation to Industrial Revolution by Christopher Hill is a 1992 history book from Penguin.

  • Principles of Physical Geology by Arthur Holmes is a 1993 textbook from Nelson Thornes.

  • Theory of the Earth edited by James Hutton is a 1997 facsimile publication of Hutton’s work from the Geological Society of London.

  • Darwin’s Ghost by Steve Jones is a 2000 book from Random House about the science of evolution.

  • The New Penguin Dictionary of Geology edited by Philip Kearey is a reference work from 1996.

  • The Culture of English Geology by Simon J. Knell is a 2000 book from Ashgate Publishing on the social history of geology.

  • Evolution & Eden by Jerry Korsmeyer is a 1998 book on evolution and religion from Paulist Press.

  • The Collins Dictionary of Geology co-edited by Dorothy F. Lapidus is a reference work from 1990.

  • From Mineralogy to Geology by Rachel Laudan is a 1987 history of the emergence of geology as a science from the University of Chicago Press.

  • Milestones in Geology edited by M.J. Le Bas is a 1995 collection of classic works from the Geological Society of London.

  • Principles of Geology by Charles Lyell is the 1834 work establishing modern geology.

  • The Mapping of Geological Structures by Keith McClay is a 1987 textbook from Wiley.

  • The End of Nature by Bill McKibben is a 1989 book on environmental issues from Doubleday.

  • Source Book in Geology by Kirtley Mather is a 1967 collection from Harvard University Press.

  • The History of Chipping Norton by Eileen Meades is a 1984 local history from Bodkin Books.

  • British Regional Geology: The Hampshire Basin by R.V. Melville and E.C. Freshney is a 1982 Geological Survey publication.

  • Creation by Natural Law by Ronald L. Numbers is a 1977 history of science book from the University of Washington Press.

  • The Creationists by Ronald L. Numbers is a 1992 history from University of California Press on the antievolution movement.

  • Darwinism Comes to America by Ronald L. Numbers is a 1998 history from Harvard University Press.

  • The Floating Egg by Roger Osborne is a 1999 book published by Pimlico.

  • Dr. Johnson’s London by Lisa Packard is a 2000 book on 18th century London from Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

  • The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire by Nicolaus Pevsner and John Harris is a 1964 guidebook from Penguin.

  • Memoirs of William Smith, LLD by John Phillips is an 1844 biography of the early geologist William Smith.

  • England in the Eighteenth Century by J.H. Plumb is a history from 1990 Penguin Books.

  • The Making of Geology by Roy Porter is a 1977 history of geology from Cambridge University Press.

  • Victorian Prison Lives by Philip Priestley is a 1999 book on English prisons from Pimlico.

  • Pioneers of Geology by Douglas A. Robson collects short biographies of important geologists.

  • The Great Devonian Controversy by Martin Rudwick is a 1985 history of a debate in geology from University of Chicago Press.

  • The Laboring Classes in Early Industrial England by John Rule is a 1986 social history from Longman.

  • The Great Chain of History by Nicolaas Rupke is an 1983 history of scientific ideas from Oxford University Press.

  • A Guide to the Cotswold Way by Richard Sale is a 1999 guidebook to the Cotswold trail in England.

  • A History of Scientific Thought edited by Michel Serest includes historical perspectives on science.

  • William Smith: His Maps and Memoirs by Thomas Sheppard is a 1920 biography that discusses Smith’s geological map of England.

  • A Darwinian Left by Peter Singer is a 1999 book arguing for political stances based on Darwinian ideas from Yale University Press.

  • George IV by E.A. Smith is a 1999 biography of the British monarch published by Yale University Press.

  • Canal Architecture by Peter L. Smith is a 1997 book on British canal construction and design from Shire Publications.

  • The Geology of the North York Moors by Alan Stanforth is a 1993 guide published by the North York Moors National Park.

  • Science and Earth History by Arthur Strahler is a 1987 book from Prometheus Books on geology and religion.

  • England in the Nineteenth Century by David Thomson is a general history of the period from Penguin Books.

  • The Geology of Britain by Peter Toghill is a 2000 overview of British geology from Swan Hill Press.

  • British Social and Economic History published by Macmillan in 1980 charts social changes from 1800-1900.

  • “Early Maps of the Somersetshire Coal Canal” is a 1974 journal article by H.S. Torrens.

  • Geology and Scenery by A.E. Truman is a 1949 book linking landscape and underlying geology.

  • The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire 1 by David Very and Alan Brooks is a 1999 architectural guide from Penguin.

  • Exploring the Kennet & Avon Canal by Nigel Vile is a 1992 guidebook on the English canal.

  • Churchill and Sarsden by Alan Watkins is a 1988 local history from Sutton Publishing.

  • Historical Geology by Reed Wicander and James Monroe is a 2000 textbook from Brooks/Cole.

  • The History of the Geological Society of London by Horace Woodward was published by the society in 1907.

  • Geological Atlas of Western and Central Europe was published in 1990 by oil company Shell International Petroleum.

Here is a summary of the key points about the people mentioned:

  • Al Office Archive seems to be able to find weather records going back 300 years.

  • Simon Knell and Roger Osborne have both written books on the development of geological thought.

  • Nicolaas Rupke is a Dutch academic researching geology.

  • Patrick Wyse-Jackson is the geology archivist at Trinity College Dublin.

  • Robert Millspaugh is associated with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

  • Professor Ronald Numbers studies the history of evolution at the University of Wisconsin.

  • Joanna Innes is an expert on early London prisons and helped with details about the King’s Bench debtors’ prison.

  • Derek and Eileen Brown befriended the author in Chipping Norton near William Smith’s birthplace.

  • Brian Excell and Fiona Ann Drury commented on the Tisbury Coral fossil.

  • Denys Brunsden received a William Smith Award and helped with Dorset’s Jurassic geology.

  • Lord and Lady Derwent hosted the author in Scarborough and helped with Smith’s time in Yorkshire.

  • Heather MacFadyen expertly searched Victor and Joan Eyles’s fossil collection in Bristol.

  • The author’s son Rupert searched records at the UK National Archives for details on Smith.

  • Juliet Walker provided helpful support for many of the author’s projects.

Here are the summaries of the passages requested:

ld to WS by, 136–37, 256 WS was led/taken to debtors’ prison in London by bailiffs due to his unpaid debts, as documented on pages 136-137 and 256.

WS sent to debtors’ prison by, 255–57, 261 WS was sent to King’s Bench Prison (a debtors’ prison in London) due to his unpaid debts, as described on pages 255-257 and 261.

Here is a summary of the key details from the provided text:

  • Thomas Newcomen invented the first practical steam engine in 1712.

  • William Smith conducted his first underground survey in 1791 of the Mearns Colliery in High Littleton, where he began his observations of rock strata.

  • Noah’s flood was cited by some in the 1700s-1800s as the cause of sedimentary rock formations.

  • Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1867.

  • Matthew Noble was a pupil and early supporter of William Smith.

  • Norfolk and Northamptonshire counties were areas Smith conducted geological surveys.

  • Jane Austen’s 1818 novel Northanger Abbey references the importance of geology.

  • James Hutton published his theory of the earth in 1788 which influenced Smith’s thinking.

  • Sir Isaac Newton was a famous English scientist.

  • The Rees’s New Cyclopaedia was a reference work Smith consulted.

  • Smith dictated his “Table of Strata” in the 1830s to Richardson, Townsend and others which systematized stratigraphic nomenclature.

Here is a summary of the key points about Arthur Young, George Young, and Simon Winchester from the passage:

  • Arthur Young (1741-1820) was an English author and political economist who traveled through France to document the effects of the French Revolution.

  • George Young (no dates provided) was a quarryman and canal worker in Bath who befriended William Smith and helped him with his geological work in the area.

  • Simon Winchester is the author of the book. He has written many books on history and geography. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006. He lives in western Massachusetts.

So in summary, Arthur Young was an author who documented the French Revolution, George Young was a local quarryman and canal worker who assisted William Smith, and Simon Winchester is the author of the book providing these details on the history of geology.

  • The term “stratification” first appeared in 1795 to refer to layers of sedimentary rock.

  • William Smith was the first to use the term “stratigraphical” in 1817 in the context of identifying and mapping rock layers.

  • The concept of layers or strata of sedimentary rock becoming current in England at the end of the 17th century.

  • Smith made important contributions including identifying and naming specific rock formations and fossil layers, like the Kellaway’s Beds and Cornbrash limestone based on quarrymen’s terms. One term he coined, “Callovian”, became the name of a geological period.

  • Other relevant details mentioned are the division of geological time into eons, eras, periods, epochs, stages and zones to classify rock layers based on identifiable fossils. Robert Plot and William Strachey also studied rock layers in the 17th-18th centuries.

  • Denys Brunsden was a locally respected geologist expert who happened to be an internationally renowned expert on landslides. When told of the narrator’s interest, he enthusiastically shared his recent award from the Geological Society of London for contributions to geology.

  • The Middle and Upper Jurassic periods in the geological timescale are discussed.

  • The unique geological display of nearly every epoch in the British Isles is noted, from the earliest to the Pleistocene.

  • Description of a Jurassic rock formation containing countless hard iron-rich nodules called “snuffboxes” or “jawbreakers” in other places.

  • Discussion of Fuller’s Earth clay mineral formation in relation to the Middle Jurassic period.

  • Comparison is made between a thin-bedded roofing limestone in Rutland and one in Stonesfield, noting their differences in age based on fossil evidence.

  • Mention that American military listen from within the Jurassic landscape at a satellite station.

  • Context provided about risks William Smith took as a Dissenter in dealing with conservative landed clients.

  • Brief biographical details given about several figures mentioned like James Banks, Dylan Thomas, and Richard Trevithick.

  • John Farey was the go-between regarding a potential honor for William Smith from the Geological Society.

  • Baronetcy is the lowest hereditary title, below barons but above knights. It conveys the title “Sir” but not the right to sit in the House of Lords.

  • A camera lucida is a projection device that helps artists by projecting an image onto paper to trace.

  • The Wollaston Medal, awarded by the Geological Society, was originally struck from palladium but sometimes uses gold if supplies are low, as in Smith’s case.

  • Several prominent geologists were awarded the Wollaston Medal over the years, including Phillips in 1845, Buckland in 1848, Sedgwick in 1851, and Darwin in 1859.

  • Benjamin Richardson, a vicar, wrote supporting honoring Smith after his death.

  • Mary Ann Smith, William Smith’s wife, lived for 5 years after him in an asylum, with conflicting accounts of her personality and how she affected her husband.

  • Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia, was named after Thomas Brisbane.

  • Queen Victoria began her reign in 1837, the year before Smith died.

  • Books mentioned are all available from Harper Perennial.

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About Matheus Puppe