Skip to comments.The Map that Changed the World [in 1815]
Posted on 10/07/2005 3:59:37 AM PDT by PatrickHenry
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- When University at Buffalo planetary volcanologist Tracy Gregg mentioned at a recent geology conference that the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library was this fall exhibiting an original edition of the world's first geologic map, audience members were captivated.
"People were coming up to me afterward, asking when would be the best time to come to Buffalo to see the map and what hotel should they stay at," she said. "I wouldn't be surprised if hundreds of geologists end up coming to Buffalo to see it."
This original, signed edition of the first series of geologic maps ever created is one of only two in the United States; the other is at the Library of Congress. The map is accompanied by a descriptive pamphlet series. There are just 43 known originals of the map in the world today.
Dubbed "The Map that Changed the World," by Simon Winchester in his popular 2001 book, the hand-tinted, 10-foot-by-six-foot map is on exhibit at the Central Library branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, One Lafayette Square.
"If geology were a religion, this map would be its bible," said Robert Jacobi, Ph.D., UB professor of geology.
Link to pic of map (It's too big to display with the article. You can click on the map and make it bigger.).
But the map isn't only for geologists, stress Jacobi and Gregg, UB associate professor of geology.
"This map directly addresses the relationship of people to the natural world," said Gregg. "It directly influenced the industrial revolution, geology, biology and evolution. It forced people to think about our place in the universe."
[minor snip about the exhibit]
The hand-drawn map and pamphlets were created by canal surveyor William Smith in 1815 based on his travels throughout Great Britain on foot and on horseback.
Smith was the first to recognize and record the fact that rocks on the surface told the stories of the rocks and minerals that existed below the surface.
"Smith could 'read' the rocks on the surface," Gregg said, "he realized that it was not random, that earth's processes have a cycle and an order to them and that, for example, specific fossils are only in certain rocks."
That observation alone, helped provide a foundation for Darwin's work later in the century.
Because the map provided a systematic method of linking what was under the ground with its surface, it played a major role in the industrial revolution, providing a method for the identification of valuable mineral deposits of coal, oil, iron ore and others.
"The map is a tool, a mechanism for communicating how you can peel back the layers of dirt, gravel and grass and see what's underneath," said Gregg, "so you can tell somebody, go to this spot on this street corner and this is what you will find."
Gregg notes that the geologic map is still the basic unit of conversation among geologists and that nearly two centuries later, geologic maps are not all that different from Smith's.
[snip stuff about the exhibit hours]
That was a good book.
"...and though we be on the far side of the world, this map- is our home.
This map- is England."
Fascinating. I grabbed a copy to look at when my eyes are open.
"Gregg notes that the geologic map is still the basic unit of conversation among geologists and that nearly two centuries later, geologic maps are not all that different from Smith's. "
True. I used to work at an oil major ... and the facts are that without 3D geologic maps/geophysical maps, plus cross sections tied to synthetics ... well, it would be a bit tough to enjoy the game of wild catting...
DHI's are especially fun to map. (Direct Hydrocarbon Indiators)
Fascinating article. Thank you!
Thanks for the ping.
Thanks- getting it now.
Finally..aside from the Bills, a reason to visit Buffalo.
I consider that a good thing.
Do we really need another evolution thread around here?
ping for later
Hmmm...I found that book to be extremely repetitive...like he took a two-chapter story and expanded it by running through the same anecdote again and again.
Also didn't help when I found out he'd made part of it up. :-(
The Buffalo Library also has Mark Twains original handwritten manuscript of Huck Finn.
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Like a library in a mobile home park.
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