© 2015 Cardiff Scientific Society

4 Mar William Smith (1769-1839) and the beginnings of Geological Mapping
- Tom Sharpe BSc FMA FGS CGeol EurGeol
Curator (Palaeontology and Archives),
Dept. of Geology, National Museum Wales
The English canal and mineral surveyor, William Smith, established the principles of stratigraphical geology and demonstrated them through his 1815 geological map of England and Wales. Claimed by some as ‘the map that changed the world’, it has achieved iconic status in the earth sciences. It was certainly ground-breaking and established geological map-making in the modern sense, but its development was far from straightforward and its publication history is complex. It never achieved the success for which Smith hoped, nor did it provide the income he needed. It is ironic that today the maps are highly collectable and command significant prices. This lecture will look at the history of the map in the context of the developing structure of the new science during the first few decades of the 19th century.