1882 Geikie's accession - Geological Survey of Great Britain (by E.B. Bailey)

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From: Bailey, Sir Edward. Geological Survey of Great Britain. London: Thomas Murby, 1952.
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Figure 15 Sections across Sleat of Skye. A, Lewisian of Moine Nappe (above T') and of Tarskavaig Nappe (above T); M, Moine Schists of Moine Nappe; M', Tarskavaig Moine Schists of Tarskavaig Nappe; Ba 1-4, Lower Torridonian, and Bb, Middle Torridonian, of Kishorn Nappe; f, faults; D, Tertiary dykes and sill. (Quoted from Clough, N.W. Highland Mem., 1907, pp. 575, 589.)
Figure 16 Section (continued in two parts) passing by Durness and Eireboll. A, Lewisian gneiss ; Bb, Torridonian sandstone ; Ca-d, Cambrian Quartzites, etc. ; Ce i-vii, Cambrian and Ordovician limestone and dolomite; M’ mylonite; M, Moine Schists ; λ, marble ; x, quartz-schist ; T, Thrusts ; T’, Moine Thrust ; f, faults. (Quoted from Peach and Horne, N.W . Highland Mem., 1907, p. 479.)
Figure 17 Chalk pit at Lenham, Kent. The pipe material in quarry face and collected in spoil heaps contains fragments of Lower Pliocene Lenham Reds. (Quoted from Reid, Pliocene Mem., 1890, p. 44.)
Figure 18 Jaw of Purbeck mammal, Plagiaulax becklesi, Falc. (The fossil is 1 in. long.) (Quoted from Woodward, Jurassic Mem., 1895, p. 237.)
Figure 19 Section in Dobb's Linn. Tarannon: 4, Greywackes and Shales. Llandovery: 4III” and 4III’, Upper Birkhill Shales.4III, Lower Birkhill Shales. Caradoc 3II', Barren Mudstones of Hgrtfell Shales. The letters i-n denote particular graptolite zones. (Quoted from Peach and Horne, Silurian Mem., 1899, p. 94.)
Figure 20 Corallian sea urchin, Hemicidaris intermedia, Flem. across) and Purbeck tree, Mantella (Cycadeoidea) microphylla, Buckl. .(6in. across). (Quoted from Strahan, Purbeck Mem., 1898, pp. 27, 88.)
Figure 21 Plan of neck, 60 yards long, St. Monans Shore, East Fife. 1, limestone ; c, coal in shale; B, basalt ; T, agglomerate; s, sandstone block. Quoted from Geikie, East Fife Mem., 1902, p. 236.)
Figure 22 Crush-conglomerate in Manx Slates. (Quoted from Lamplugh, Isle of Man Mem., 1903, p. 57.)
Figure 23 Thin slice from rhyolite apophysis of Red Hill granophyre, where it cuts Cuillin gabbro. (Quoted from Harker, Skye Mem., 1904, p. 285.)

1882 Geikie's accession[edit]

Archibald Geikie took office as Director General on 1st February, 1882. His ability, energy and attainments marked him out as proper successor to Andrew Ramsay. His broad grasp of his subject was emphasised before the year was out by the publication of the first edition of his Textbook of Geology, written with the declared intention of widening the international outlook of British geologists. The fourth edition, which appeared in 1903, is still indispensable.

Geikie had been born in 1835, the same year as the Geological Survey which was now placed in his charge. There is no doubt that he was extremely gratified by his new appointment. Still his task was humanly difficult, and cannot have been altogether congenial. He had more or less undertaken to wind up most of the activities of his office. The great institution, over which he presided with an affection almost equal to that of the founder himself, would soon celebrate its jubilee. It had grown in strength with well-doing through the years. It now stood within striking distance of its original objective: the last one-inch map of the primary survey of Wales had been published in 1852 ; the corresponding last maps of Ireland, England and the Isle of Man have followed in 1890, 1893 and 1898—though one must admit that, with two wartime interruptions, a not inconsiderable fraction of Scotland remains untouched even to this day.

Bristow continued Senior Director for England and Wales till his retirement in 1888. Similarly Hull remained Director for Ireland until his post and that of District Surveyor Kinahan were dispensed with in 1890—when Nolan was left as Senior Geologist in charge of three fieldsmen and J. S. Hyland, the latter a pupil of Zirkel appointed in 1888. Howell, who will always be remembered for having recognised the equivalents in Scotland of the three major divisions of the Carboniferous of England, was nominally promoted to fill Geikie's place in Scotland before the close of 1882, and presently, in 1888, to become Director for Great Britain—a throwback to early Murchisonian days. It is necessary to qualify these two appointments as nominal,' since, so far as field supervision was concerned, Geikie limited Howell's activities as though he were still a District Surveyor, holding him responsible only for the North of England with its vanishing staff. Howell continued to live in Newcastle till 1884, and then migrated to Edinburgh. Geikie, in becoming Director General, did not wish to cease functioning as Director ; and, when Howell left in 1899, no successor was appointed.

Aveline's retirement in 1882 from the English service, and James Geikie's from the Scottish, allowed the promotion of Whitaker and Peach as District Surveyors ; but the vacancy created by Howell's elevation remained unfilled. Robert Etheridge's transfer to the British Museum (Natural History), which had occurred in 1881, made room for the advance of G. Sharman and E. T. Newton jointly as Paleontologists and Curators of the Fossil-Collection in London. Baily and Peach continued as Paleontologist and Acting Paleontologist respectively in Dublin and Edinburgh. Close co-operation of the eminent palxobotanist, Robert Kidston, was secured in 1884, though he never became a regular member of staff. Rudler remained Curator of the Museum and Librarian.

James Geikie's retirement practically marked the end, for Survey purposes, of a Government custom which had permitted multiple employment in the higher ranks. In early days of organised Science, an outstanding personality, such as Huxley, might simultaneously give the benefit of his powers to a number of offices, and receive corresponding remuneration. The practice is quite understandable ; and is, of course, still continued in business circles, where a capable administrator may simultaneously act as paid director to several independent companies. In the scientific field, however, opinion gradually hardened against its continuance,. Hull, for instance, when he went to Ireland in 1869 as Local Director for the Survey, found great difficulty in persuading Government authorities to allow him to follow Jukes as Professor of Geology at the Royal College of Science, Dublin.

Archibald Geikie, too, was only very reluctantly permitted in 1871 to accept the newly founded Murchison Chair of Geology at the University of Edinburgh. By 1882 the segregationists had so far established their case that James Geikie was bluntly told that he must choose between the proffered succession to the Murchison Chair and retention of his place on the Survey. He chose the former. Since those days there have been a few minor departures from the rule of undivided employment, mostly in Dublin ; but the only really important exception was afforded by the introduction of Alfred Harker (1895-1905) as a member of the Scottish field staff while he still retained a lectureship at Cambridge. We shall have more to say of this special case in the sequel.

Unprecedented activity was shown during 1882 in the Mining Records Office, which it will be remembered was established under De la Beche's care in 1840, primarily as a precaution against loss of life consequent upon loss of information regarding abandoned underground workings liable to flooding. Robert Hunt, Keeper of the Records, visited Cornwall, Devon, the Midlands and Yorkshire to gather plans and statistics from coal, iron and lead mines. He claimed, probably correctly, that the collection under his charge was now more perfect than that of any other country in the world. It was a final effort. Next year, at the age of 76, Hunt retired ; and the Mining Records Office was transferred to the Department of Inspectors of Mines at the Home Office. This was a natural rearrangement from the point of view of safety ; and the mining plans can still be readily consulted at any time by the staff of the Geological Survey, a very important consideration. The last copy of Mineral Statistics issued by the Geological Survey covers 1881. Since then the publication has been continued by the Home Office, though until 1920 not in so complete and useful a form as previously.

This devolution of De la Beche's responsibilities was, of course, in keeping with the previous separation of the Royal School of Mines from the Geological Survey. The most lively reminder of the old state of affairs was afforded by Warington Smyth, working and lecturing at Jermyn Street till his death in 1890. Another redistribution dating from 1883 involved the transfer of many non-geological publications from Jermyn Street to South Kensington, to supply a nucleus for the new Science Library that was there established.

One naturally turns to the Annual Report for 1882 to see how Archibald Geikie felt after his first year in the saddle. We find him expecting that field-work in relation to the original survey of England and Wales would be finished the next year, 1883 ; and contemplating corresponding transfers of staff, some to drift-mapping in the South and Midlands of England, others to augment the meagre forces already engaged in the Highlands of Scotland. As regards progress in this latter region we read: ' The field-work has been prose cuted upon the one-inch scale, and I have every reason to be satisfied with the result.'

Geikie's very proper ambition to speed the completion of the primary survey of the British Isles led, as expected, to transfer to Scotland of five Surveyors from England during 1884 and 1885, and of two from Ireland, 1889. The Englishmen included:—

Gunn, whose main monument is his splendid work in Arran—started in 1892.
Clough, impeccable mapper, gratefully remembered for his researches on: (f) the Dalradian Schists of Cowal in Argyll—started in 1884 ; (2) the Lewisian of Loch Maree, which among other claims to attention is traversed by flint-like veins of crush-rock semifused by frictional heat—started in 1889; (3) the Kishorn, Tarskavaig and Moine Nappes in Skye and Glenelg—started in 1892 (Fig. 15).
Barrow, brilliant but uncertain, who (1) established a world reputation for his observations on granitic permeation with associated zonal development of index minerals in the metamorphism of the Dalradian Schists of the Central Highlands—first published in the Annual Report for 1892 ; and who (2) did more than anyone else to unravel the stratigraphical sequence of these last-named difficult rocks.

The movement of staff from England to Scotland was coupled with resignations, the occlusion of Woodward and Fox-Strang-ways through preparation of a monograph on The Jurassic Rocks of Britain, and the withdrawal of Good-child to the Jermyn Street office. The result was a virtual halving of the number of Surveyors employed in England in 1885 as compared with 1881.

1881 1885
England 23 12
Scotland 10 13
Ireland 10 9

Goodchild never went back to actual surveying. In 1889 the Science and Art Museum in Edinburgh, later renamed Royal Scottish Museum, assigned a gallery for exhibit of specimens and maps of the Scottish branch of the Geological Survey. Goodchild was appointed Curator and was brilliantly successful, winning disciples who have done much research of permanent value. He died in harness, 1906.

Apart from R. H. Tiddeman, who revised the Burnley coalfield, the 12 Surveyors in England during 1885 were engaged on drift-mapping and concomitant revision in non-mining areas. They worked on the six-inch scale, a circumstance which, we shall presently see, was closely connected with recent happenings in Scotland.

Good intentions[edit]

No one could have had a clearer idea than Geikie of what was required in England and Wales after the completion of the general map. He outlines his programme in his Report for 1883 briefly as follows:-# Preparation of the maps for the engraver with corresponding horizontal sections and sheet-explanations.

  1. The resumption of the Drift Survey to complete the general Agricultural-Geological Map of the country.'
  2. Resumption of resurvey of the Coal and other Mineral Districts.'
  3. Preparation of sheet-explanations where none has yet been published.
  4. Preparation of full Stratigraphical Monographs dealing with individual systems.

Of these five items, the first four amount to a recognition of the virtue of established ideals, including, as we note in (4), a determination to catch up on arrears in the carrying out of Murchison's plan for routine publication of sheet-explanations. Obviously the spirit was willing, but the temptation to rush forward to further and further achievements of area surveyed proved irresistible. In his Retort for 1885, after referring to the strengthening of the Scottish, at the expense of the English, staff, he makes the following ominously optimistic admission: In order to push on the mapping in Scotland, these officers were transferred before the completion of the indoor work connected with English maps, sections and memoirs. But in intervals of wet weather throughout the year, and during the winter, this work has been carried on by them, so that much of it has been cleared off.'

No wonder, with such a weakness, Geikie, instead of eradicating the outstanding shortcoming of the Ramsay period, confirmed and extended it. Many of the one-inch maps of Northern England and Southern Scotland are even now unaccompanied by explanatory text. The ill-treated area includes the great coalfields of Durham, Northumberland and, until comparatively recently, Whitehaven.

It must not be imagined that it is easy for the Chief of the Survey to arrange compliance with Murchison's maxim. Altitude, weather, agriculture and sport often make it wise to station a fieldsman in more than one area during a single season. It is sometimes absurd to insist that a Surveyor should spend a summer indoors to free himself of old entanglements, if this will entail his having nothing on hand during the following winter. Moreover, a one-inch map is generally covered by a team, rather than by a single man ; and publication by a team is determined by the pace of the hindmost. Controversies, too, are inevitable, especially if isolation is chosen in preference to team association. Inspection and discussion may remove most of them at early stages; but others are likely to persist and to handicap cooperation. In addition, the fieldsmen are dependent, not only on one another, but also in many cases on overloaded experts at Headquarters for determination of fossils, minerals and rocks, and the writing of appropriate chapters. They are hindered, too, by the fact that superior officers may often, owing to pressure of work, have to delay editorial reading of their texts when at last these have been submitted. Over and above all this, the Ordnance Survey and Stationery Office, responsible for actual publication of maps and memoirs respectively, take their time over the process, and as likely as not supply proofs when the staff concerned is in the field under conditions that may make proof-reading impossible.

So the years pass with the men growing older and approaching the age limit, which admittedly is foreseeable ; but then any one of them may unexpectedly die, leave the country or accept a professorship. Some of the best observers, too, have no aptitude for writing, and are delighted if they can skip on to new districts before the material they have accumulated is put in order for presentation. Others again, having saturated themselves for years with the detail of a particular area, feel that they should spend the rest of their lives revising and revising. Some, too, cannot realise the balance that is expected of an official memoir. They may want to write in full detail of a discovery they have made the day before yesterday ; and to leave unrepeated some much more important fact, discovered perhaps a hundred years ago. Then there are those, perhaps the majority, who feel it is their duty to record all they have observed, instead of accepting responsibility for making selection. For them the kindest treatment is to institute an efficient filing system that allows of ready disinterment of information in case of need. I am certain that those in authority should aim at encouraging the research worker concurrently to prepare two different kinds of report: (r) a concentrated specialised account, dealing with new discoveries ; and (2) a balanced general account, combining new knowledge with old in a form suitable for a sheet explanation. Many specialised accounts find their most useful home in the pages of unofficial scientific periodicals.

What has been said above about the desirability of avoiding over-emphasis of new discoveries in Survey Memoirs does not apply to such memoirs as deal with rapidly developing coal or other mineral fields. In their case memoirs should be written with the intention of frequent revision ; and facts likely to guide exploitation in the near future should be given high priority.

For the moment we shall postpone consideration of Geikie's new plan for Stratigraphical Monographs. It embodied a great conception and led to important results ; but it is obvious that such memoirs cannot be regarded as a convenient alternative for sheet-explanations. It is not reasonable to expect a man to buy three volumes of The Cretaceous Rocks of Britain because he happens to live at Eastbourne and wants guidance as to the local geology. Even if he does buy them, he will find in them no mention of the Quaternary features of his district.

North-West Highlands and six-inch mapping[edit]

When Geikie proudly entered upon his duties as Director General in 1882, he little thought that the greatest disaster of his scientific career lurked just round the corner. Two years later he met his trouble face to face, if not with generosity, at least with dignity and courage. Undismayed, he supported with all the powers at his disposal the new researches which followed in its wake, thus bringing great honour to the British Survey and to British Science in general. Many a man would have behaved very differently under the trying circumstances.

The story is poignant, to those who understand, and is best told told in Geikie's own words quoted from his Annual Reports for 1883 and 1884. In the first instalment he was quite unconscious of the possibility that in the second be would be recanting what had been for more than twenty years his dearest geological conviction.

Before, however, we turn to this contemporary record, let us step backward through history. In the first place let us recall how Murchison in 1860 took Geikie, then only five and twenty years of age, on a long excursion through the Highlands. During the trip the leader confirmed his own belief that the crystalline schists forming the main mass of the Highlands overlie non-metamorphic fossiliferous Ordovician rocks exposed along the north-western fringe of the region, and are therefore younger than the latter. It would have been truly marvellous if Geikie, in such company and under the conditions holding during the expedition, had not been satisfied that his Chief was right. It is, however, a little strange that in after years no uncertainty assailed him. There was a great difficulty inherent in Murchison's interpretation, which James Nicol continually emphasised. The supposedly earlier non-metamorphic rocks lie cheek by jowl with the supposedly younger metamorphic rocks. Murchison accepted this as a fact upon which to build; but he did not explain how it had come to pass. Nicol reviewed the problem from its foundations. He postulated as geological common sense that metamorphic rocks must be older than adjacent non-metamorphic rocks; and he disposed of the contrary age-argument, which Murchison based upon superposition, by disputing the superposition and invoking instead hypothetical steep junctions determined by faulting. Geikie, in common with many other competent observers, found in the field that Murchison's superposition is a plain fact of observation. He accordingly dismissed Nicol's alternative statement, unfortunately in all particulars, and accepted Murchison's views in their entirety. This, of course, was illogical ; but after all it was very much in accordance with human nature.

Murchison died in 1871 ; Nicol in 1879. In 1880 a composite obituary note concerning the latter appeared in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. It was largely furnished by Lapworth and includes the following pregnant statement: ' His opinions upon the Highland succession were shared by very few geologists in his day ; but there is every probability that the whole question will soon be reopened by those who believe that an opinion held by such a modest and patient investigator as Nicol is certain to have been founded on solid grounds.'

Charles Callaway was one of the very few geologists' influenced by Nicol. He was still at work on the subject in 1882, when Lapworth decided to see for himself what could be learnt at Durness and Eriboll in the far north of Sutherland. In 1883 the two of them, Callaway and Lapworth, quite independently, announced a new solution, to which we have already briefly referred. In considerable measure it affords a compromise between Murchison's and Nicol's hitherto apparently irreconcilable interpretations. Superposition of metamorphic rocks on non-metamorphic is a reality, but is tectonic, not stratigraphic ; dislocations do in fact separate the two sets of rocks, but they are low-angled, not steep.

Callaway's announcement appeared in the March number of the Geological Magazine; Lapworth's followed in May. They agree in all essentials, except that, while Lapworth left the age of the Eastern Gneiss ' an open question, Callaway continued to maintain Nicol's pre-Torridonian view without qualification. This comparatively minor difference was due to Callaway's remaining unconscious of the fact that he had swept away the grounds upon which Nicol had built his proposition of relative age, as soon as he had demonstrated that Nicol's dislocations involve immense horizontal rather than vertical transport of rock masses.

Callaway's summary reads as follows:

  1. The Eastern Gneiss has been brought over the [Cambro-Ordovician] Quartzo-dolomitic group by earth-movements subsequent to the deposition of the latter.
  2. The Quartzo-dolomitic series is frequently, at its junction with the Eastern Gneiss, folded back upon itself.
  3. The Upper Quartzite ' of Murchison is the Lower ' Quartzite repeated by either faulting or folding, and the Upper Limestone ' is either the Dolomite repeated by faulting or a part of the Eastern Gneiss.
  4. The igneous rock ' of authors (` Logan Rock ' of Professor Heddle) is usually the Hebridean Gneiss [now commonly called Lewisian] brought over the Quartzo-dolomitic group by enormous overthrows.

In 1883 Geikie dispatched his two best field geologists, Peach and Horne, to Durness. The mission is very reminiscent of the biblical story of Balaam. In fact, in conversation, Horne used to claim that he had acted the part of the sage's famous ass, when together he and Peach first encountered the apparently concordant succession of schist on fossiliferous limestone characteristic of the Durness basin. That it was an old succession was clear enough, for it was cut by numerous faults, large and small ; but Horne realised the danger of drawing too rapid a conclusion. Wait,' he cautioned, till we see what it is Lapworth has got at Eriboll.'

Here now is Geikie's record taken from the Annual Retort for 1883. He had pointed out therein that the field-work on the original one-inch sheets of England had been completed within the time estimated in the summer of 1881,' and that every fit and available man will be employed ' henceforward in Scotland.

As the true key to the Geological structure of the Highlands is not to be found in any of the areas now in course of examination by the Survey, but along the Western borders of the counties of Sutherland and Ross, of which the Ordnance maps are now available, and as it is of great importance to have the base lines of the Survey-work accurately determined, I resolved to begin the survey of the extreme North-West Highlands during the early part of the Summer.
Accordingly Messrs. Peach and Horne, with the assistance of Mr. Hinxman, stationed themselves at Durness in Sutherland, where the order of succession of the rocks was established by my predecessor, the late Sir R. I. Murchison. During the three months when these officers were at work in that district an area of 113¾ square miles with 166¾ miles of boundary was surveyed. As the ground is complicated in structure and will serve as the base from which all our sections across the Highlands will run, I considered it desirable to have this survey made on maps of the scale of six inches to a mile, but as soon as this typical area is completed the mapping will be continued on the one-inch scale. Whilst the work was in progress I visited the district and, after inspecting what had been done, took the officers over a series of important sections further south, where I had in previous years established the order of succession, and which will, I trust, expedite the progress of the work this year [that is during the year 1884].

Here next is the second instalment written only twelve months later by the same author in his Annual Report for 1884. Peach, Horne and L. W. Hinxman had now been joined by Clough, transferred from England, and H. M. Cadell, who, like Hinxman, had been recruited the previous year.

Their work contains some of the most important results obtained by the Geological Survey for many years. The transference of a portion of the staff into the extreme north-west of Scotland was designed to obtain a proper base-line for the prosecution of the survey of the Highlands, as stated in my previous Report. Hitherto the strati-graphical succession in that region, as determined by the late Sir Roderick Murchison, has been accepted by the Geological Survey in the mapping of the southern parts of the Highlands, but it must now be abandoned. At the close of the season, I went into Sutherland and Ross-shire with Messrs. Peach and Horne for the purpose of critically inspecting their work. I found their surveys to have been done with remarkable skill and accuracy. After fully examining the ground with every disposition to support the view of my predecessor, Sir R. I. Murchison, I am compelled by the evidence to admit that these views can no longer be sustained, and that an entirely new basis has been laid for the Geological Survey of the Highlands.

As soon as he was satisfied with the correctness of Peach and Horne's findings, Geikie decided on the fullest publicity. He instructed his two lieutenants to furnish a report to the November number of Nature, to which he himself supplied an illuminating preface. In this he candidly acknowledged that he had been driven to jettison the Murchisonian interpretation and to accept in its place one involving prodigious terrestrial displacements,' so large in fact that overlying schists have certainly been thrust westward across all the other rocks for at least ten miles.'

The effect upon the outside world was electrical. The new discoveries were received with acclamation ; and many recognised the support they afforded to earlier descriptions of large-scale thrusting in Switzerland, Quebec and Belgium.

Big-hearted Lapworth two years later, in commenting upon the Close of the Highland Controversy, pointed out that the laborious task of tracing the thrust-belt south to Skye is a work which can only be accomplished speedily and in its entirety by the Geological Survey.' Geikie saw to it that this vast task was not only fittingly carried out in the field, but also properly supported by petrographical study and presented in appropriate maps and memoirs—of which more presently. Meanwhile, let us return to Lap-worth, and quote from a plea he advanced for good fellowship:

We have all been partly right and partly wrong. It is time for a hearty laugh all round, a time to shake hands and be friends.
The inauguration of the Murchisonian hypothesis of the Highland succession marked the beginning in Britain of a period of bitter controversy, of estrangement of Survey men and amateurs, of decline in geological enthusiasm, and of comparative feebleness of geological research. Let us trust that its downfall marks the commencement of a new and happier period like that of the earlier years of the present century, when all British geologists shall meet upon an equal footing, in mutual companionship and sympathy.

Looking back to this call, now more than 50 years old, one is amazed at Lapworth speaking of his own zenithal period as one of comparative feebleness of geological research ' ! Surely he must have known that his graptolite-guided investigations in the Southern Uplands of Scotland—in spite of tardy recognition—stood firmly in the forefront of geological achievement of all time.

Here is another thought, connected with the subject, though unconnected with Lapworth's commentary. It is natural that special sympathy should have been bestowed upon Nicol by later writers, because he died discredited a few years before Murchison's theory was exploded. It is also natural that a like feeling should have been extended to Lap-worth, because in 1883, while in his field quarters, he broke down under the excitement of discovery, feeling the great Moine Nappe grating over his body as he lay tossing on his bed at night ; and had to see others bring the work to full fruition. It is, however, a little hard that Callaway should as a rule get much less than his due of general approbation ; a close friend of the main personalities once offered, as explanation, that Callaway was cantankerous, and that he mapped on the one-inch instead of the six-inch scale. If this be a true assessment, it shows by what strange circumstances scientific appreciation may sometimes be affected.

Whether or no we think less of Callaway for having made his discovery in the North-West Highlands without the aid of six-inch maps, we shall probably all agree that the Geological Survey of the time ought to have been equipped with these well-tried instruments of research, not only here as was the case, but also in every other district in which they were engaged. Fortunately the events of 1884 led to a return to the Ramsay tradition that six-inch maps should be used wherever available. Thus the Annual Report for 1885 remarks that six-inch mapping had been found of great advantage for drift and revision work in Southern England; while that for 1887 speaks of clean copies of six-inch maps of the counties of Banff and Elgin, which adjoin the East Highland block of one-inch mapping started in 1880--the only important patch of the kind in the whole of Scotland. The results were so good that we find Geikie writing in 1897: ' It is impossible to over-estimate the gain, both in completeness and accuracy.'

Microscopic petrology established[edit]

Geikie continued to foster microscopic petrology. His own assumption of additional duties in 1882, coupled with Rutley's resignation from the English staff the same year (following upon that of Clifton Ward in 1878) and Hull's retirement from the Irish service in 1890, greatly weakened the Survey's petrological position. To meet the urgent needs of the case Geikie made a series of special appointments as follows (in London except where Dublin is stated): 1886-1892, F. H. Hatch, who left to undertake consultant mining work ; 1888- 1914, J. J. H. Teall, who succeeded Geikie as Chief in 190i ; 1888-1891, J. S. Hyland, in Dublin ; 1891-1892, W. W. Watts, following Hyland in Dublin, and then 1893-1897, following Hatch in London—until he himself resigned to become Assistant Professor of Geology under Lapworth at Mason College, Birmingham ; 1893-1897, W. J. Sollas in Dublin ; 1898-1901, W. Pollard, a chemist, to fill the vacancy due to Watts's resignation and to give much needed analytical support to Teall. After Pollard's appointment Grant Wilson ceased to act as part-time Chemist in Edinburgh and confined his attention to field-work. A small chemical laboratory had been fitted up at Jermyn Street as early as 1886. For several years most of the slicing was done in Edinburgh, as was natural from the relative abundance of crystalline rocks in Scotland as compared with England.

Of the fieldsmen, Barrow, as already indicated, took full advantage of his petrological opportunities among the intrusions and metamorphic rocks of the Central Highlands. He owed much to Teall's guidance, but more still to the education and encouragement he received from Allan B. Dick, who in past years, 1851-1856, had been Assistant to Percy at Jermyn Street, and still took a keen interest in Survey welfare. In the field Barrow often had recourse to powders, supplemented by thin slices. Clough, too, in unobtrusive fashion and with much discussion with Teall, derived great benefit from microscope slices in his struggles to understand some of the mysteries of metamorphism.

The enlistment of petrological specialists for London and Dublin did not add to the numerical strength of the Survey. There were never more than three at one time. Hatch's appointment was made following a reduction of staff in Great Britain, Hyland's followed the death of Baily, the Palaeontologist in Dublin. All except Teall ranked as Temporary Assistant, or Assistant, Geologists—grades which we have not hitherto differentiated from that of Geologists. Teall, however, was introduced as full-ranking Geologist (Petrographer) on the proceeds of an economy effected after Bristow's retirement, through amalgamation of the Directorships of England, Wales and Scotland.

Hatch and Hyland had both received their training in Germany ; but Teall, Watts and Sollas were brilliant examples of the amazing Cambridge school of Geology for which Bonney in the latter days of Sedgwick's professorship was mainly responsible. Other Survey men from the same source were Jukes-Browne, Clough and Strahan.

Teall was undoubtedly the outstanding acquisition among the gifted petrological recruits secured at this stage by Geikie. In his subject there are only two other British workers who may, perhaps, be compared with him, Harker and Flett—of whom more later on. After graduating, Teall undertook for a time valuable work as a Cambridge University Extension Lecturer, which brought him into contact with Allport and other amateurs away from the main seats of learning. Presently, however, he retired to devote himself more continuously to research and the publication of his classic British Petrography, which was completed, so far as igneous rocks are concerned, just before he accepted his post on the Survey.

Teall's first important petrological paper appeared in three parts in the Geological Magazine for 1883. He had frequent recourse in it, as in all subsequent publications, to chemical analysis, in part performed by himself. His microscopic methods were such as are employed today, though, of course, at that date discrimination of felspars was laborious and sometimes impossible. His main conclusion, when he first wrote his article, was that the porphyrites ' of Lower Old Red Sandstone age in the Cheviots should be called andesites or altered andesites, if one is prepared in Allport fashion to name igneous rocks without reference to date of eruption. He further showed that they are quite different from what had been ' described as porphyrites by Professor Geikie in his paper on the Carboniferous Volcanic Rocks of the Firth of Forth.' He strengthened this contrast by furnishing a detailed account of one such Carboniferous porphyrite ' from a lava outcrop near Jedburgh, adjoining the Cheviots. He found it to be ' a representative of the basaltic family,' similar to that of Dunsapie crag, Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh. In all we see the seeds of much of the petrological literature that has grown up in after years around the Late Palreozoic igneous products of Scotland.

As luck would have it this paper, excellent in itself, blossomed out in entirely unexpected fashion as it passed through the Press. In Part i Teall mentions that much of the pyroxene of his andesites gives straight extinction and adds: ' It is possible of course that the pyroxenic constituents of the rock may comprise more than one species of the mineral.' In an appendix added to this part he is able to go much further. Rosenbusch by this time had examined slices and had identified the straight-extinguishing pyroxene as hypersthene, and the rock itself as ' the porphyritic equivalent of the ancient norites and directly equivalent to the recent hypersthene-andesites '—which latter, we may add, were little known at the time except at Santorin. In Part ii, entirely rewritten, Teall points out that by strange coincidence Whitman Cross had published a paper On HyperstheneAndesite, on the other side of the Atlantic just a month before his own Part i had appeared. In it Whitman Cross had announced that in very many so-called augite-andesites of America and Europe augite is decidedly subordinate to a rhombic pyroxene which is presumably hypersthene.' Teall followed up in Parts ii and iii, and in a sequel On Hypersthene-Andesite published in the August number of the Geological Magazine for the same year, 1883. Altogether he gave over a dozen new localities for hypersthene-andesite, occurring in widely separated parts of the world. ' It is not a little interesting,' he adds, that, just as the true character and wide distribution in space of this rock type is beginning to be recognised, evidence of its existence as far back in geological time as the Lower Old Red Sandstone period should be forthcoming.' If he had been a prophet he might have continued that it is not a little interesting that it was Judd who first drew his attention to Whitman Cross's paper, and that it was Judd who supplied him with several of the specimens from localities such as Stromboli and Mt. Ararat, in which he identified hypersthene. I say this because of a second remarkable coincidence, Teall's article On Hypersthene-Andesite, August, 1883, synchronised with the famous explosion of hypersthene-andesite magma at Krakatoa, and it was Judd who was destined to investigate this marvel for the Royal Society. Thoughts of this kind were probably present in Judd's mind when he confirmed the origin of the world-wide Krakatoan sunsets by identifying hypersthene among the dust that settled on the roofs of London.

We cannot, of course, review Teall's other pre-Survey publications at similar length. From 1884 to 1887 he was responsible for twelve papers on very varied subjects, extending geographically from Sutherland to the Lizard. One of them, which gave him particular pleasure, appeared in 1885 describing The Metamorphosis of Dolerite into Hornblende-schist. The metamorphosis concerned was of pre-Cambrian date, but it so happened that Teall was keyed up for its discovery, in 1883, through having been shown by Lapworth, only a few days previously, post-Cambrian mylonisation along the Moine Thrust at nearby Eriboll.

Then in 1888 came British Petrography, a large octavo volume, which no one who aims at advancing knowledge in this domain should fail to consult in advance. Its first 68 pages deal with the constituents, chemical and physical characters, and classification of igneous rocks in general. Then follow 293 pages on ultrabasic, basic, intermediate and acid igneous rocks, with separate treatment for mica-traps and felspathoidal rocks. In every case Teall devotes a section to illustrative British examples—of which in the last-mentioned class only one at that time was known, the nosean-phonolite of the Wolf Rock described by Allport in 1871. The final 64 pages are given over to metamorphism which igneous rocks either produce or endure ; and to what he entitles The Origin of Igneous Rocks.' The whole is illustrated by 67 lovely plates in colour, some of them drawn by other workers, including his talented wife. Bonney, in a review, has said: ' We have now a book in our own language which is comparable in its illustrations with that of Fouque and Levy, and in its erudition with the treatise of Rosenbusch. …Knowing well Mr. Teall's abilities and learning, we had expected much, but we have found more.'

For convenience of description ' Teall adopts a classification essentially based on the systems of ' the authors whom Bonney has named above ; but of course no distinction is made between rocks of the same composition and texture merely because they have been produced at different periods.' In regard to texture he often distinguishes three grades: granitic, intermediate and trachytic, or, as many say today, plutonic, hypabyssal and volcanic. As regards age he remarks: The dominant school of petrography on the Continent proposes to make geological age a primary factor in the classification of igneous rocks,' but ' English, and, to a certain extent, also American petrographers, do not accept this principle.'

Teall's physico-chemical outlook may be gathered from the attention he pays to H. Vogelsang's observations and experiments, and to Sorby's on inclusions within minerals—though with the caution that it is essential to be able to distinguish between primary and secondary inclusions. He also emphasises the lessons to be learnt from zonal structures, and warmly accepts R. W. Bunsen's claim that magmas are solutions. He quotes with similar approval recently published conclusions drawn by A. Lagorio from chemical segregation that accompanies devitrification of artificial glasses and crystallisation of magmas. One of his own most important suggestions is that micrographic and spherulitic inter-growths of quartz and felspar are essentially eutectic. This word has been introduced by F. Guthrie as a result of experiments carried out on relatively fusible non-silicate mixtures, 1875-1884 ; and it is proper to recall that Guthrie himself all along expected geological applications of his laboratory work. Of less permanent value may be mentioned Teall's sympathy for Soret's principle of concentration by diffusion of near-saturation products within regions of relatively low temperature.

After Teall joined the Survey he devoted most of his energies to problems arising in the North-West Highlands: the nature of the Lewisian Complex ; the effects of dynamic metamorphism on various rocks below the Moine Thrust ; the wonderful alkali intrusions of Assynt, including borolanite with its garnets and pseudoleucites ; and the contact-alteration produced by these intrusions upon adjacent, somewhat siliceous Durness Dolomite. Other contributions from the West Highlands farther south include his detailed treatment with Dakyns, 1892, of a peridotite-to-granite complex called after Garabal Hill. In this he clearly showed that the earlier members of the complex are composed of the earlier crystallisation products of the magmatic assemblage ; while the last member of all is quite likely a quartz-felspar eutectic. This would be easy to understand if the story were one of differentiation in situ of a crystallising magma—but Teall knew that such was not always the case. Barrow, in the discussion which followed, indicated his own outlook on the succession of events-: (I) gravitational differentiation through crystallisation of a parent magma to give a stratified mass, in which basic rock came to be overlain by acid ; (2) remelting from below with production of successive partial magmas liable to upward intrusion, among which basic was followed by acid.

Another specially important contribution made by Teall to West Highland geology was his description of contact-alteration produced by the Cruachan Granite with development of corundum and other minerals in neighbouring Dalradian Schists. Another, again, his account of regional development in appropriate members of the Dalradian of albite-schists, similar to examples described from the Alps, Saxony and Massachusetts—in all his work Teall thought internationally. Then, in the Southern Uplands, we find him giving a splendid account of the Galloway granites and their attendant contact-alteration.

Administratively Teall gradually strengthened rock-slicing activities at Jermyn Street operated by John Rhodes; but in 1900, we learn, only 216 slices were made here as against nearly 1,000 in Edinburgh. The serially numbered slices of Great Britain as a whole were grouped by Teall, for ready geographical reference, in catalogues corresponding with individual one-inch sheets.

Hatch's most important single contribution to British geology is an altogether admirable account of the Carboniferous basalts and trachytes of East Lothian, 1892. In it he records limburgite for the first time in our isles; and, much more important, he recognises the clink-stone of Traprain Law as a nepheline-phonolite. Hatch's discovery of this Carboniferous nepheline-phonolite finally broke down the defences of the Continental school which advocated significant differences between Cainozoic and pre-Cainozoic igneous rocks. In their latter days they had whittled down their claim to little more than that nepheline-phonolite at any rate is exclusively Cainozoic.

Watts left his mark on Irish geology by his Handbook of the Rocks and Minerals exhibited in the Dublin Museum; and in later years firmly established himself as Interpreter-in-Chief of the Precambrian of Charnwood Forest, romantically draped in desert deposits of Triassic age.

International Geological Congress[edit]

The meeting of the International Geological Congress in London, 1888, under the presidency of Joseph Prestwich, allowed of welcome interchange of opinion between home and overseas geologists. The Congress owed its origin to the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876, when a committee was formed to arrange for a first meeting in Paris, 1878. A second meeting followed at Bologna, 1881 ; and a third at Berlin, 1885. The 1888 meeting in London, unlike its successor in the same city sixty years later, was an English, rather than British, function. It was, of course, largely organised by Survey men, with Archibald Geikie as one of the Vice-Presidents, and Topley one of the Secretaries. Two aspects may be touched upon as particularly important to the Survey: one a debate undertaken by a commission asked to report on Cambro-Silurian nomenclature ; the other a description of the Carboniferous of the North of England, preparatory to an excursion to be held after the meeting.

Barrande had early distinguished three faunas in his expansive Silurian as developed in Bohemia, and had shown all three could be recognised in other countries. Hicks, for Britain, had drawn the two dividing lines separating these three faunas, beneath the Arenig and the Llandovery respectively. Lyell fully agreed in the 1865 edition of his Elements, calling the earliest division Cambrian and the two later Lower and Upper Silurian. This Hicks-Lyell procedure only went part way to mollify McKenny Hughes and others at Cambridge, who claimed that Sedgwick's priority of partial investigation was being slighted. They accepted the three divisions, but named them Lower and Upper Cambrian followed by Silurian. In 1879 Lapworth, to clear away confusion and to do justice to fossils rather than to men, proposed a terminology ' which imitates Nature herself in placing the three grand members of the Lower Palaeozoic Rocks upon an equal footing,' with the three titles Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian. Now, at the Congress, he tried to win formal confirmation of his innovation. He did indeed receive strong support from Hicks, and also from John E. Marr—the latter destined to be Hughes' successor to the Cambridge chair, and easily the most fruitful worker on Lower Palaeozoic classification connected with that University since the days of Sedgwick and Salter. On the other hand, so much difference of opinion was expressed that the motion was never put to the vote. Geikie, who in his 1882 Textbook had followed Lyell, continued on the same lines to the end ; but after his retirement Ordovician has been freely used in Survey publications.

The other matter of special Survey importance, which was broached at the Congress, was of very different character. E. Dupont in 1881 had described what he called ' coral islands' in the Devonian 'of Belgium, and attributed them to localised organic growth during subsidence, very much according to Darwin's 1842 interpretation of modern atolls. Tiddeman explained at the Congress that he adopted a similar interpretation for certain ' reef knolls,' 300-400 feet high, which he had discovered in the Carboniferous of the Craven district of Yorkshire. He also correlated abrupt associated changes of facies with contemporaneous operation of faults affecting the sea bottom. Few communications have left so noteworthy a train of worth-while controversy, extending even to the present day. There seems to me, however, little doubt that Tiddeman was substantially correct.

Stratigraphical, district and water memoirs[edit]

In England the dominant Survey publications of Geikie's period were the Stratigraphical Monographs, which he early planned. They were all extremely fine works:

The Pliocene Deposits of Britain, 1890, by Clement Reid, with Vertebrata, 1891, by E. T. Newton.

The Cretaceous Rocks of Britain, vols. 1900-1904, by A. J.

Jukes-Browne, with contributions by W. Hill.

The Jurassic Rocks of Britain, vols. i, ii, Yorkshire, 1892, by C. Fox-Strangways, vols. iii-v, England and Wales, except Yorkshire, 1893-95, by H. B. Woodward.

The Silurian Rocks of Britain, vol. i, Scotland, 1899, by B. N. Peach and J. Horne, with Petrology by J. J. H. Teall.

The importance which Geikie attached to these great memoirs is shown by his dispatching Clement Reid to Belgium in 1886 and to Italy in 1887 for comparative study.

The Silurian Rocks of Great Britain was an indirect product of the work in the North-West Highlands. Horne, as we have seen, managed to delay publication of the Moffat and Loch Doon one-inch sheets, because he was convinced that Lapworth had supplied corrections which ought to be adopted by the Survey. With their hands strengthened by the North-West debacle, he and Peach were eventually able to persuade Geikie to allow them, with the skilled Fossil Collector, A. Macconochie, to undertake a revision of these sheets—the excuse offered in print was the death of one of the surveyors concerned in their production. Starting in 1888, the result was, in Geikie's words, ' to reconcile the discrepancies.' So it came about that the Moffat sheet appeared in 1889, and the Loch Doon in 1893 ; but field-work was continued till 1898 for the sake of the Stratigraphical Monograph. Throughout most of the eleven years, 1888 to 1898, this revision was relegated to the winter, when the North-West Highlands were out of the question ; and, taken in conjunction with the quality maintained, it stands as a monument to endurance and perseverance of a kind seldom encountered in peacetime outside of polar exploration. Among entirely new discoveries we may instance Peach's detection of minute organisms in cherts of very wide distribution. The matter was taken up by H. A. Nicholson, and more especially by G. J. Hinde, both publishing in 1890. The latter described from Peach's material no fewer than twenty-three new species of radiolaria.

Geikie's general acceptance of Lapworth's discoveries about this time is further shown by his sanctioning revision of the surrounds of the Warwickshire coalfield in 1886. The underlying cause was a habit, which Lapworth developed after coming to Birmingham in 1881, of finding Early Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks in unexpected places. It is pleasant also to note Geikie thanking Lapworth in the Annual Report for 1887 for kindly furnishing the Kendal memoir with a table showing the time distribution of graptolites. Apart from this we may recall that Lapworth, through his experiences in the English Midlands and Welsh Borders coupled with his universal reading, was led to suggest that the Durness Quartzite of the North-West Highlands might prove to be Lower Cambrian, instead of Ordovician—the age previously assigned to it because of the Ordovician fossils of the upper part of the Durness Limestone. Inspited by this guess, as one may call it, Horne in 1891 asked Macconochie to search a particular shale bed that seemed of promising character, and as a result an Olenellus fauna was unearthed.

Of District Memoirs, six were published in England and two in Scotland during Geikie's regime. The English included The Geology of London, 1889, by Whitaker. It was planned as a replacement and extension of the same author's memoir of 1872—a replacement in so far as descriptions of Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks are concerned, and an extension in its inclusion of a detailed account of Quaternary deposits. Its records of wells and bores, now expanded to 352 pages, is conveniently presented as a separate volume.

Ten years later, 1899, saw the inauguration of the County Water Supply Memoirs of the Survey. The first volume, by Whitaker and Clement Reid, is entitled The Water Supply of Sussex from Underground Sources. All this bespeaks the Survey's healthy appreciation of its responsibilities in applied Geology, beyond the very obvious fields of mining and quarrying. A little volume by Woodward on Soils and Subsoils from a Sanitary Point of View: with especial reference to London and its Neighbourhood, 1897, is a further reminder on the same lines. It soon sold out.

Two other very important English District Memoirs are a second edition covering the Isle of Wight, 1889, by Clement Reid and Strahan, and the Isle of Purbeck and Weymouth, 1898, by Strahan. Both districts had now been mapped for the first time on the six-inch scale. The revision of the Isle of Wight was undertaken in 1886 and completed in 1887 ; and the one-inch reduction published next year. Bristow, who had shared in the original field work 1848-56, furnished a Notice for the new memoir ; but died before it actually appeared. It is interesting to find that Reid made no fewer than 358 bores, ranging from to to 33 feet, in his investigation of the Tertiary outcrops of the Isle of Wight. He had just been to Belgium in connection with his Pliocene memoir, and Dupont, as Director of the Royal Museum at Brussels, had supplied him with boring apparatus such as had been largely used by the Belgian Survey in their areas of soft rock. At the present day Geological Surveyors in the South of England constantly make use of hand-augers.

The Purbeck memoir describes Mesozoic exposures, which from many points of view are the most interesting in Britain. For one thing they have been overtaken by an advance guard of the Alpine disturbances. In 1889 Geikie examined with Strahan the famous Purbeck Fault, which the latter had rightly connected with the Alpine tectonics. Geikie also, the same year, with Huxley and Reid, saw some very interesting thrusting, which the latter had found at the foot of Beachy Head. This, too, was at the time very naturally correlated with the Alpine disturbance ; but it is more probably evidence of recent escape of Gault Clay from under the load of the Chalk, which rises abruptly above it for 50o feet in the sea cliff.

Of the two Scottish District Memoirs, one by Geikie on West Fife will be returned to later in connexion with coal. The other, by Clough on the Cowal district of Argyll, was of particular scientific importance. It puts forward wonderful suggestions of large-scale recumbent folding in the Dalradian Schists with subsequent refolding, and also discusses successive stages of metamorphism.

Coalfield revision[edit]

Of Coalfield Memoirs we find the first two of thirteen parts which eventually covered the South Wales Coalfield. Part i was by Strahan, 1899, and Part ii by Strahan and Gibson, two. Strahan had been sent in 1891 to start the revision, that is to start the original six-inch mapping of this great coalfield. He had already obtained coalfield experience in North Wales and Cumberland. Now he was to take up a task which was to occupy the rest of his time as a field-geologist. By 1909, the year he was appointed Assistant Director for England, he had with others published ten parts. In 1914, the year he became Director of the whole Survey, he published Part xi. The remaining Parts xii and xiii followed later, when he was no longer an author. Strahan's record of high-class publication in the Isles of Wight and Purbeck, and the coalfields of North, and especially of South Wales, is one of which the Survey is justly proud.

At first Strahan was alone in South Wales, but in 1893 he was joined by Walcot Gibson ; and later by others, making a very strong field unit. Gibson was Lapworth's first student at Birmingham. Before joining the Survey in 1893 he had spent four or five years at mining geology in South Africa. We shall hear of him later as one of the great Coal Measure geologists of the Survey. His first move from South Wales was to North Staffordshire in 1897. Revision of this coalfield had been started in 1894, along with that of Leicestershire ; to be followed by Warwickshire in 1895 and Derbyshire in 1897. Fox-Strangways did much of this Midland work, and in 1897 was put in charge. Little publication resulted during Geikie's period, except for a map and memoir by Fox-Strangways and Watts on Atherstone and Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire, 1899 and 1900; and a very important paper on the divisions of the Upper Coal Measures of the Midlands, communicated by Gibson to the Geological Society in 1901.

Incomplete coalfield revision by Grant Wilson in Scotland north of the Forth found expression in revised editions of two one-inch maps, and in District Memoirs written by Geikie on Central and Western Fife and Kinross and on Eastern Fife. The West Fife memoir appeared a little before Geikie's retirement ; the East Fife a little after. The latter, in addition to its valuable coalfield data, reproduces an exemplary measured section with palxontological data, detailing a great thickness of Carboniferous sediments exposed in truly wonderful coastal exposures. This section represents long years of close observation by J. W. Kirkby, a local colliery manager. The memoir also contains Geikie's own account of various volcanic rocks, especially the numerous necks dissected on the shore, today the best known of their kind in the world.


Oil-shale, unlike coal, was worthless until industrial chemistry had reached a high degree of development. So far as Britain is concerned, the oil industry started with James Young, who had been a companion of Lyon Playfair in Professor Graham's chemistry class at Glasgow. In 1847 Playfair, by this time on De la Beche's staff, wrote to Young telling him of a petroleum spring in a Derbyshire coal pit and suggesting that he should erect works and refine it. Next year Young established on the site what was probably the first petroleum works on modern lines to be set up anywhere in the world.

The Derbyshire spring, however, showed signs of failure, and Young tried the effects of low-temperature distillation on many English and Scottish coals. He finally selected for development the famous Torbanehill Mineral,' a gas coal of very special character lying near the base of the Coal Measures and restricted to a small area near Bathgate in West Lothian. He took out a patent in 1850 for low-temperature distillation of coal, and had his first retorts working almost at once. At the Great Exhibition the following year he was awarded a medal for his achievement ; though he did not stand alone, for a Prussian and two French scientists were decorated at the same time for somewhat similar successes. Young prospered, and so did the lawyers. Was the Torbanehill Mineral a coal ? Did distillation of shale infringe the patent ? One great result was that light flooded the homes of the people, out of reach in many localities of supplies of coal gas—for now a modern lamp could replace candle and cruse. Till 1859, when petroleum was discovered commercially in Pennsylvania, Scotland supplied almost all the world-wide demand for mineral-lubricant and lighting oils, and paraffin wax. Since then competition has been severe ; and Scottish oil continued to be profitable only because of the manurial value of its by-product, ammonium sulphate.

The Torbanehill Mineral was exhausted in 1862. Before this happened, Young had turned to oil-shale outcropping in the Lower Carboniferous farther east. In 1858 he found a suitable seam near Broxburn, much poorer in oil, but by way of compensation much more abundant and much cheaper to work—and endowed with what proved in the future to be the saving grace of ammonia. Geikie has given the following very interesting account of the initial stages of the hunt for oil-shale:

In mapping the western part of Midlothian and the eastern part of Linlithgowshire or West Lothian I traced certain bands of black shale which appeared to occur on definite horizons in the lower division of the Carboniferous series. They had never apparently been worked for any purpose, though some of them were so bituminous as to be easily kindled into flame. Mr. James Young, afterwards known as Paraffin Young,' consulted me as to the extent of these shales, and accompanied me on the ground. I was able to show him many localities where their outcrop could be seen, and to indicate to him roughly the area under which they extended. He did not say anything about the purport of his enquiry. But in a short while, having secured the right to work these and other shales over a considerable tract of groucd, he began active operations for the extraction of mineral oil from them. He thus founded the oil-shale industry of Scotland from which so much wealth has since been obtained.

The above quotation illustrates the unpublished help that is constantly given to inquirers by the Geological Survey. Examination of the published record of Geikie's field-work, which appeared in one-inch map and memoir, 1859 and 1861, further shows that the early seekers after oil-shale were provided with an excellent rough and ready guide. Many besides Young entered the field: in 1865 there were no fewer than 120 works distilling oil in Scotland, mostly from the shales of the Lothians. Naturally the intensive search, justified by the economic reward and conducted to a large extent by boring, soon put the Survey publications out of date. The first official revision was carried out by H. M. Cadell, 1885-1887, and a new edition of the one-inch map appeared in 1892. Cadell retired from the Survey in 1888, and his full account of the stratigraphy of the Oil-Shale Measures was not given till 1900, when he made it the subject of a Presidential Address to the Geological Society of Edinburgh. It is obvious that, after laying a satisfactory foundation, the Geological Survey, with its small staff and uncompleted primary survey, for a time did less than it would have wished to help the industry. It must, however, be remembered that in those days the Survey had no compulsory rights to examine mining plans of working companies or to learn the results of exploratory bores; and, with so many companies staking out claims, attempts to help by governmental research might have been more resented than welcomed. On the non-geological side we are told that in the competitive days: Oil-works chemists were not generally permitted to publish the results of their experience, and with their death their knowledge was lost.' Since Geikie's day it has been possible to give a comprehensive treatment of the subject in a Geological Survey Memoir entitled The Oil Shales of the Lothians. This has gone through three editions, 1906, 1912 and 1927, and has probably a wider international reading public than any other economic memoir published by the Survey.

East Anglia and the Isle of Man[edit]

In spite of what has been said above of publication of maps without memoirs, many excellent memoirs did, of course, appear in Geikie's time, in addition to those which have been specifically mentioned. There were good patches and bad. Perhaps, the best covered East Anglia and Lincolnshire, where much of the work was done under the guidance of Whitaker and Woodward. Whitaker retired in 1898 as District Surveyor and was succeeded by Woodward.

An unusual type of recruit may be mentioned at this stage, G. W. Lamplugh. He joined in 1892, and was destined, like Woodward, one day to be Assistant Director. for England and Wales. He was some 33 years old, married and with children, when he signed on as Temporary Assistant Geologist, to receive a pay that has been described as on a level with that of a dock labourer. Previously he had been a wheat merchant of substantial position ; but all the time an incorrigible geologist. He first made his name by researches on the Lower Cretaceous rocks and Glacial drifts of Yorkshire ; and it is typical of the man that in 1884 he took part in the Yukon gold-rush, not for the fashionable reason, but to study large-scale glaciation still in operation. On joining the Survey he was given the task of completing the geological mapping of the Isle of Man, which had been started in 1889. He finished the field-work with petrological help from Watts in 1897. The one-inch map followed next year, and the memoir in 1903, after Geikie's retirement.

North-West Highlands again[edit]

The North-West Highland Memoir is another District Memoir, which, though it did not appear till 1907, is naturally considered at this stage, since Geikie served as its editor. He had already done all he could to foster the great research recorded in its pages. He had persuaded Teall, as we have seen, to join the team. He had seen to it that one-inch sheets along the line were duly completed to their margins and published. At half-time he had arranged for a very fine report presented to the Geological Society. He had pressed for completion of the field-work extending in space from Durness to Skye, and in time from 1883 to 1897. He had provided adequate staff working under Peach, with Horne always close at hand. He had sent in 1885 other members of the Scottish staff to benefit by the lessons learnt ; followed in 1888 by their fellows from Ireland—there have, of course, been constant spontaneous pilgrimages to this Holy Land of tectonics. Of these latter the most distinguished in Geikie's day was arranged in 1892 at the request of the Foreign Offices of France and Germany for the benefit of Marcel Bertrand, De Margerie and von Richtofen (accompanied by Hughes, Sollas, Harker and Watts) with Peach as leader.

The greatest change of opinion that came during the course of the North-West Highland investigation concerned the nature of the Moine Schists. To begin with, Lapworth, Peach and Horne thought that these Moine Schists were in large measure a ground-down mixture of Cambrian Quartzite and Lewisian Gneiss—that, in fact, they were dynamic in origin as well as in metamorphism, if this latter term were, under such conditions, applicable. Eventually, however, in 1892 Peach suggested that the Moines were Torridonian sediments metamorphosed in post-Cambrian time ; while Horne about the same date reverted to Callaway's variety of Nicol's interpretation, that they were pre-Torridonian sediments metamorphosed in pre-Torridonian times. The evidence is so difficult to interpret that agreement has not yet been reached ; but this in no way affects the main tectonic story, where Peach, Horne and everyone else are at one.

Geikie's ancient volcanoes[edit]

Another great memoir claims attention, though, from its treatment of the subject, it was not issued as an official publication. I refer to Geikie's masterpiece, The Ancient Volcanoes of Great Britain, 1897. In the breadth of its geographical scope it surpasses even the Stratigraphical Monographs.

Geikie had felt the call of the volcanoes from the days of his boyhood, when he absorbed the studies of Charles Maclaren in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, or roamed Arran with Ramsay's pamphlet in his pocket, or took steamer from Glasgow to Skye fortified with a copy of Macculloch's Western Isles. We have already caught a glimpse of his progress during Survey days before he migrated to London. We have also sensed a cloud which came to darken his horizon cast by Judd when the latter turned from Scotland's Mesozoic sediments to her igneous rocks, especially to those of the Tertiary West. Much of what Judd said seemed to Geikie ill-considered or untrue ; but there could be no doubt of the attractiveness of his claim that the plutonic rocks of St. Kilda, Skye, Rhum, Ardnamurchan and Mull mark the cores of mighty central volcanoes which had supplied the nearby lavas.

Geikie had at this time seen a number of volcanic fields abroad ; and in 1879 was privileged to add the great experience of travelling across the lava-plain of Idaho, deeply trenched by the Snake River and its tributaries. The impression it made upon him is best conveyed in his own words:

The lavas were not emitted from central volcanic cones of the type of Etna or Vesuvius, but from numerous longitudinal fissures in the crust of the earth, many of which are now revealed as dykes of basalt running for miles through all the other rocks. The region was a magnificent example of the colossal volcanic type of massive or fissure eruptions, so well diagnosed by my old friend Baron F. von Richtofen. It was in this ride over the vast Snake River volcanic plain that the mists fell from my eyes as to the origin of the Tertiary basalt-plateaux of Scotland, Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. The problem with which they had puzzled me for many years was here solved. They were now recognised to be an older and more wasted example of the same type of fissure eruptions. It may be imagined with what satisfaction my volcanic studies in Western America came to a close, and how I longed to be able to return to the plateaux of Antrim and the Inner Hebrides, in order to apply to those familiar areas the lesson which had now been learnt.'

On his return Geikie visited his old haunts and wrote to Nature, 1880, proclaiming, as quoted above, the new idea which he had brought home with him. Thus started a very heated controversy as to whether the Hebridean eruptions came from central volcanoes or fissures; and, in addition, as to whether the main magma sequence were from acid to basic (Judd) or from basic to acid (Geikie). In a preface to the Skye memoir issued in 1904, Teall supplies the following commentary:-

On account of the exceptional interest of the Tertiary Volcanic area of the West of Scotland, ' Sir A. Geikie determined that a typical portion of the region should be mapped and described in great detail. The district comprising the central mountain group of Skye was selected by him in 1895, and the services of Mr. Harker were secured in order that the actual survey and the petrographical work might be carried out by the same officer.' Then follows a statement of Judd's and Geikie's rival views, much as outlined above ; and with reference to Geikie's the verdict is given: ' These conclusions have been confirmed by Mr. Harker.'

Later work by others, especially in Mull, has tended to revive the volcanoes, and has shown that there are so many recurrences of basic and acid magmas that the ' main magma sequence ' is too hypothetical a conception to be worth a quarrel. On the other hand, Judd did accept the contact of Cuillin gabbro with Red Hill granophyre in Skye as representative ; and here all who go to see realise that his acidfollowed-by-basic claim is utterly untenable. This last fact coupled with respect for Harker's impartiality, care and ability, blinded geologists for many years to all the good in Judd's Hebridean volcanic study, apart from its petrological aspects. It was very hard on Judd. It was also very hard on British geology, which had a long wait ahead of it for rediscovery of the great volcanoes, not to mention the pneumatolysis of Mull and the upheaval of Rhum. On the other hand, if Geikie at this time had been discredited in Skye, the consequences might have been even more disastrous. We have spoken already of reverses which he suffered in the North-West Highlands and Southern Uplands; and there were various other big matters in which his interpretations were being rightly questioned. The five great volcanoes might well have pulled him down and broken his apparently indomitable spirit. As it was, he escaped this trial, and gave the world his Ancient Volcanoes, one of the most helpful of classics in geological literature.

It may be noted before we go on that Geikie's transference to London put him in the way of acquiring considerable supplementary knowledge of these volcanoes. He made a point of keeping in personal touch with all aspects of his colleagues' field-work, and naturally visited any igneous subject they happened to be investigating. In addition, he made preliminary traverses with a view to the future field-work of the staff. In Cumberland and Westmorland,' he tells us, speaking of 1890, ' I was accompanied by Dr. Hatch ; in Carnarvonshire and Merionethshire I had the assistance of Mr. B. N. Peach from the staff of Scotland. In some later traverses in Anglesey I was accompanied by Mr. Teall '— the last-mentioned, it may be added, joined with Geikie later in an important paper on banded structure in the Cuillin gabbro. Much help was also received from Watts, and in some cases from amateurs, as from H. H. Arnold-Bembrose in the toadstone country of Derbyshire. In his leave, too, Geikie was able to extend his knowledge of the west coast of Scotland to include St. Kilda and the Faroes. Henry Evans, a sportsman still legendary in the island of Jura where he stalked deer on his pony for years after losing a leg as a result of a gun accident, provided the transport. Evans was as keen a yachtsman and field-naturalist as he was a sportsman, and on several occasions got Alfred Newton, the celebrated ornithologist, and Archibald Geikie to pilot his voyages to every cliff,' as Geikie recalls, that I wished to observe or to examine from a small boat.'

Summary of progress[edit]

In another direction, we may here note Geikie's influence upon the Annual Report, an uninviting publication into which we have already often dipped for dated information. In 1892 a new Vice-President of the Committee of the Council on Education was appointed, and in a long conversation he asked Geikie whether he were satisfied with the present form of these Reports. Geikie replied, as was expected, that he was far from satisfied. Accordingly in the Annual Report for 1892 we find for the first time a special section headed Record of Geological Work. This was presently expanded to give a separate publication, the first number of which appeared under the title Summary of Progress of the Geological Survey for 1897. The innovation proved of great assistance to the Service, more than repaying the time taken each year in the process of preparation. It makes Survey results immediately available. It is also excellent discipline in a research to have to issue interim reports. In many cases, too, these reports, written by men who afterwards became casualties through death, resignation or other causes, have helped those left behind in their task of memoir writing.

Small-scale maps[edit]

Publication of an official four miles to the inch geological map of England and Wales, in several sheets, was recommenced by Geikie in 1889. Murchison, as we have already seen, had made a good beginning on these lines as early as 1858, but had then desisted. Geikie adopted colour-printing, an innovation for Geological Survey maps. Four-mile maps did not begin to appear for Scotland and Ireland until after his time—for Scotland in 1907, and for Ireland 1914.

The four-mile map took much time to prepare, when Murchison started with it, for his staff had not only to draw geological lines, but also those of the topographic reduction. He seems to have stopped, because he thought it more sensible to support the third edition of Greenough's eleven-mile map, published by the Geological Society, 1865. Geikie's four-mile map was based on an Ordnance Survey reduction, but the colour-printing of it had to be handed over to the Stationery Office. All smaller-scale maps until after Geikie's day were entrusted to private publishers; but they did much to synthesise the work of the Geological Survey for the benefit of the public. Such maps include (with their scale stated in miles to the inch): Murchison and Geikie's Scotland, 25 miles, 1861, 1862 ; Ramsay's England and Wales, it miles, 1859, 1866, 1879 ; Geikie's British Isles, 14 miles, 1864, 1896 ; Jukes's Ireland, 8 miles, 1867, 1870; Geikie's Scotland, to miles, 1876, 1892, 1910; Hull's Ireland, 8 miles, 1878; Geikie's England and Wales, to miles, 1897 ; Geikie's Ireland, to miles, 1907.

Progress in publication of sheets on the scale of one inch to the mile has already been referred to on p. 100, and is summarised in Fig. 10, p. 83.

The inquest[edit]

Six months of Geikie's last year on the Survey were largely occupied with a Committee 4ppointed by the President of the Board of Education. It had as terms of reference:

To enquire into the Organization and Staff of the Geological Survey and Museum of Practical Geology ; to report on the progress of the Survey since 1881 ; to suggest the changes in staff and the arrangements necessary for bringing the Survey in its more general features to a speedy and satisfactory termination, having regard especially to its economic importance ; and further to report on the desirability or otherwise of transferring the Survey to another public department.

The Chairman was the Rt. Hon. J. L. Wharton, M.P., and under him sat four distinguished Civil Servants, together with W. T. Blanford, formerly Director of the Geological Survey of India, and Charles Lapworth.

The Committee owed its origin to a memorial presented by the staff. There were ample grounds for dissatisfaction, including the following:—

1. As we have already noticed, the sudden expansion of the field staff to more than double its former strength through Murchison's recruitment of 33 field geologists in 1867 and 1868 introduced immediate difficulties of assimilation. As time passed it became more and more apparent that it had drastically reduced prospects of promotion. It is true that senior posts were concomitantly doubled, with four District Surveyors added to the previously existing Director General and his three Directors ; but the new higher grade was of lower rank than the Directorship and, in addition, with half the staff of practically uniform seniority, a time was bound to come when there would be a block in promotion from Geologist to District Surveyor.

2. Such prospects of promotion as survived from Murchison's period into Ramsay's wilted sadly during Geikie's term of office. The Director General remained, but other changes can be gathered from a statement of successive roll calls:-

Director. District Surveyor. Senior Geologist.
1881 3 4 0
1882 3 3 0
1888 2 3 0
1890 1 2 1
1899 0 2 1

The decline in the above figures should be compared with the contemporary trifling change in the numbers of Geologists, Assistant Geologists and Temporary Assistant Geologists. These three grades totalled 38 (three employed indoors) in 1881, and 35 (six employed indoors) in 1899.

3. The field staff were normally appointed as Assistant Geologists or, since 1879, as Temporary Assistant Geologists. The glut of 1867-1868 led to subsequent great delay in reaching even the Geologist rank, in one case as much as 35 years—a Temporary appointment with no certainty of pension had been known to last for more than 25 years.

4. Most of the staff felt that the Geological Survey's opportunities for valuable scientific and economic work were greater now than ever before, and that the policy of over-centralisation and retrenchment, which had been pursued since 1881, was as detrimental to the public interest as to their own. The output of work during the Geikie period had been extremely creditable in amount and quality ; but the failure to accompany many of the one-inch sheets with explanations, especially in the coalfields of the North of England, and the omission to publish any six-inch maps of coalfield areas since 1881 had produced a very painful impression.

It is, of course, possible to let partial failure obscure the good that an institute has done. The Wharton Committee did not make this mistake:

With regard to the practical uses of the work of the Survey, they reported, there is no doubt that, apart from the scientific and educational aspects, it has been of great practical service to the country. It has been shown to us that great benefit has been found to be obtainable from the results of the Survey in the matter of mining, agriculture, water-supply and sanitation ; and we believe that the cost of the Survey has been more than justified by the practical services rendered to the country at large.

The Committee recommended that the completion of the primary geological survey on the scale of six inches to the mile should be made the first duty of the institution. They did not repeat the folly of trying to rush in recruits to finish what remained to be done—in addition to the troubles mentioned above, such a course is sure to introduce an undue proportion of misfits, in spite of probationary precautions, and also to defeat any attempt at planning of supply on the part of Universities. Rather it aimed at an establishment destined for piecemeal replacement. It recommended that the title of Director General should, for Geikie's successor, be changed to Director ; that England (with Wales) and Scotland should each have an Assistant to the Director ; that seven so-called District Geologists should be appointed, five in charge of field-units, the two others, indoor specialists, namely, the Palaeontologist and Petrographer ; that the lower grades of the Scientific Staff, numbering 31, should all rank as Geologists, with automatic annual increments of pay leading to a maximum ; that the Curatorship of the Museum and Library (still held by Rudler) should remain, with two supporting posts of Geologist rank ; and that a substantial increase should be made in pay and travelling allowances.

Finally, it proposed that a Consultative Committee (later called a Committee of Advice) should be set up by the Board of Education, with members drawn from scientific institutions, universities and industries. This Committee met yearly, from 1900 to 1919, to consider a report and programme submitted by the Director. In the latter year its functions were taken over by a Geological Survey Board, part of the machinery of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, a new department created in 1916.

Geikie recognised that ' the recommendations of the Committee's Report, if carried out [and such has been the case] would put the Geological Survey on a firmer footing than ever ; the justifiable discontent of the younger members of the staff would be removed, and the status of the seniors improved.'


Shortly afterwards, very reluctantly, at the end of February, 1901, Geikie retired, but not to rest. He had been knighted in 1891, and had received the Wollaston and Royal Medals in 1895 and 1896. Now in his retirement he served as one of the two Secretaries of the Royal Society, 1903-1908. In 1907 he was awarded the K.C.B., and presided over the notable Centenary Meeting of the Geological Society. In 1908 he was elected President of the Royal Society, retiring in 1913, when he received the further distinction of the Order of Merit. Until his death in 1924 he continued to write and publish. In the eyes of the world, British Geology had come to be identified with his name. This was partly due to the care he bestowed upon elementary as well as advanced education. Perhaps his achievement of most permanent value is his successful demonstration that many of the profound lessons of geology can be accurately and effectively conveyed in simple, non-technical language.

National Physical Laboratory[edit]

On the 1st January, 1900, an event occurred, which was destined in after years to have a considerable indirect effect upon the Geological Survey. The National Physical Laboratory was established with the avowed object of testing instruments, constructing and observing standards and measuring constants. It arose from a widespread desire to reproduce in Britain something in the nature of the Physika1 isch-Technische Reichsanstalt, founded in Berlin through the joint labours of Werner von Siemens and von Helmholtz. Here we find a limited resurgence of the same ideal as actuated De la Beche and the Prince Consort in the early days of the Geological Survey. R. T. Glazebrook, on appointment as Director, soon put it on record that: ' The first aim of the Laboratory is to bring home to all ' the important fact that science can help industry.

The National Physical Laboratory did not spring into being out of nothing. There was already a meagrely endowed Standards Office at the Board of Trade, and arrangements were made for future liaison between this Office and the new Laboratory. There was also the Kew Observatory, which since 1867, under the guidance of a committee of the Royal Society, had busied itself in a comparatively small way with tests and measurements. Its activities were now incorporated with those of its successor ; and it was decided that the whole should remain under a Royal Society committee responsible directly to H.M. Treasury without the intervention of any of the specialised Government Departments. It was further laid down that the controlling body nominated by the Royal Society should contain a stipulated proportion of representatives of industry, and that its members need not be Fellows of the Society.