Strata: William Smith’s Geological Maps (Hardcover)

Strata: William Smith’s Geological Maps Cover Image
By Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Editor), Douglas Palmer (Introduction by), Robert Macfarlane (Foreword by)
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Lavishly illustrated with full-color geological maps, tables of strata, geological cross-sections, photographs, and fossil illustrations from the archives of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Geological Society, the London Natural History Museum, and others, Strata provides the first complete presentation of the revolutionary work of nineteenth-century geologist William Smith, the so-called father of English geology. It illustrates the story of his career, from apprentice to surveyor for hire and fossil collector, from his 1799 geological map of Bath and table of strata to his groundbreaking 1815 geological strata map, and from his imprisonment for debt to his detailed stratigraphical county maps.
This sumptuous volume begins with an introduction by Douglas Palmer that places Smith’s work in the context of earlier, concurrent, and subsequent ideas regarding the structure and natural processes of the earth, geographical mapping, and biostratigraphical theories. The book is then organized into four parts, each beginning with four sheets from Smith’s hand-colored, 1815 strata map, accompanied by related geological cross-sections and county maps, and followed by fossil illustrations by Smith contemporary James Sowerby, all organized by strata. Essays between each section explore the aims of Smith’s work and its application in the fields of mining, agriculture, cartography and hydrology. Strata concludes with reflections on Smith’s later years as an itinerant geologist and surveyor, plagiarism by a rival, receipt of the first Wollaston Medal in recognition of his achievements, and the influence of his geological mapping and biostratigraphical theories on the sciences—all of which culminated in the establishment of the modern geological timescale.
Featuring a foreword by Robert Macfarlane, Strata is a glorious testament to the lasting geological and illustrative genius of William Smith, a collection as colossal and awe-inspiring as the layers of the Earth themselves.

About the Author

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History holds an unrivaled William Smith collection, including not only his 1815 map and unpublished county maps, but also his vast archive of diaries, letters, published works, charts, and plans.

Praise For…

“William Smith was a terranaut—a deep-time visionary who taught himself to see down into bedrock and crust. . . . Though born chiefly of a pragmatic urgency to exploit the Earth’s resources, Smith’s map now exists somewhere between artwork, dreamwork, and data-set. It gives its readers trilobite-eyes, allowing them to see back into ancient Earth history and glimpse something of how profoundly this buried past shapes the surface world.”

— Robert Macfarlane, from the foreword

"Strata are the ribboned horizontal layers of minerals and sediment that underlie the topography of all the landmasses on the earth and have been revealed by erosion over hundreds of millions of years. Although the practice of mapping geologic layers had begun in the mid-17th century, the science of how strata formed was still nascent. By the late 1700s self-made land surveyor-cum-geologist William Smith brought new breadth and perspective to the study in his work for a mining and prospecting firm. Captured in the many maps and sketches in this stunning collection, the fossils he systematically tagged to particular geologic strata paved the way for a more holistic view of geology that enabled other researchers and industrialists to predict the geologic makeup of large regions. Perhaps the culmination of this pioneering work is Smith’s Technicolor map of Britain’s geologic deposits, which he labeled with the colloquial names used by miners and quarrymen of the day: Red Marl colored in peach pink, London Clay in sky gray, Chalk in chartreuse. Smith was known to take long ‘walkings out’ in the early morning with hammer and notebook in hand, absorbing the history of the planet, where so many others had merely passed by."

— Scientific American
Product Details
ISBN: 9780226754888
ISBN-10: 022675488X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: November 23rd, 2020
Pages: 256