1901 Teall's Directorate starts - 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 24 Quoted from Strahan and Pollard, Coals of S. Wales Mem., 1908 pl. 6
Figure 25 Map of hornfels area, and microslice of garnetiferous biotite-quartz-hornfels, pseudomorphing original sedimentary texture, Inchbae, Northern Highlands. (Quoted from Crampton, Clough and Flett, Ben Wyvis Mem., 3912, pls. ix, xii.)
Figure 26 Scenic contact of gabbro of Cuillins, to left, and granite of the Red Hills, to right. (Quoted from Harker, Skye Mem., 1904, p. 449.)
Figure 27 Geological sketch map of Ireland. Quoted from Kilroe, Soil. Geology of Ireland, 1907, frontispiece.
Figure 28 First-edition one-inch map publication in decades 1900-09 (0), 10-19 (1), 20-29 (2), 30-39 (3). (See Figs. 8, 10, pp. 62, 83.)
Figure 29 Contours of upper surface of underground water at various dates. (Quoted from Barrow and Wills, London Wells Mem., 1913, p. 19.)
Figure 30 Cauldron Subsidence of Glen Coe, Lower Old Red Sandstone age. 1, River Terraces; 2, Ben Cruachan Granite; 3 and 4, main and earlier granitoid intrusions accompanying Boundary Fault ; 5, Lavas and Ashes; 6, old Schists. Thick lines show Boundary Fault with branches. (Quoted from Bailey, Sum. Prog. for 1905, p. 98.)
Figure 31 Uninverted current-bedding in Glen Coe Quartzite, x 1/5. (Quoted from T. Vogt, Geol. Mag., 1930, p. 70.)

1901 Teall's Directorate starts[edit]

Jethro Justinian Harris Teall took office as Geikie's Successor, March, 1901, though with the diminished title of Director in accordance with one of the recommendations of the Wharton Committee. I do not know whether this titular reduction was wholly due to the completion of the first official geological maps of England, Ireland and Wales ; or whether it was influenced to some extent by the presence on the Committte of an ex-Director of the Geological Survey of India. Be this as it may, it has caused no real inconvenience. On the other hand, the correlative renaming of the local chiefs in England and Wales and in Scotland as Assistants to the Director for their particular realms did give rise to some misunderstandings outside the service, and has since been rectified. The officers concerned are now called Assistant Directors.

Apart from such trifles the findings of the Wharton Committee produced an excellent effect. Through them it had been publicly announced that the Geological Survey was not approaching the day when it would have outlived its utility. A bright future seemed assured, and Teall's taking over marked, as it were, a rebirth of the institution. As Marr has put it: 'His honesty and uprightness were transparent to all, and he was universally trusted.'

Along with a majority of his colleagues Teall felt that a stage had been reached when the Survey could and should apply more of its limited resources to economic aspects of .Geology ; but this did not prevent his stating in a Presidential Address to the Geological Society the same year as he became Director of the Geological Survey that: ' The chief glory of science is not that it produces an amelioration in the conditions under which we live, but that it continually enlarges our view, introduces new ideas, new ways of looking at things, and thus contributes in no small degree to the intellectual development of the human race'

It is not surprising that with such an understanding of the importance of both applied and pure science Teall made an inspiring leader. Among his many delightful characteristics was an enthusiastic recognition of the work of certain distinguished amateurs, who at the time were developing special lines of zonal palontology, for instance, A. W. Rowe in the Chalk, and R. Kidston and A. Vaughan in the Carboniferous. In his heart, perhaps, he sometimes doubted whether he ought not to rejoin the amateur ranks and thus find time to complete his British Petrography in regard to sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Woodward and Horne were appointed Assistant Directors, the former for England and Wales, the latter for Scotland. Of the first seven District Geologists all except Newton, the Palalontologist, were fieldsmen. They were Fox-Strangways, Clement Reid and Strahan, under Woodward ; Peach and Gunn under Horne ; and Lamplugh in charge of Ireland.

J. S. Flett, who had been first Lecturer in Petrology in Edinburgh University, was introduced as Petrographer ; but until 1903 he ranked as Geologist, not District-Geologist. Coming from Orkney, he had already published on the fossil fish and igneous dykes of his native islands. His paper on the latter had impressed Teall very favourably, especially on learning that the young author had acquired his petrological knowledge and skill in Edinburgh without personal instruction from Germany or elsewhere. The quality was excellent, and the treatment of lamprophyres incidentally involved a minor correction of Teall's own writings. On appointment to the Survey, Flett visited the field geologists both in the Highlands and in Cornwall, and so soon found his legs that he contributed a six-page review of his first impressions of Southern Highland petrology to the Summary of Progress for 1901. He also immediately improved the standard of preparation of rock slices for the Survey collection ; so that, since his arrival, these have been as thinly cut and cleanly mounted as any produced on the Continent.

By this time the Universfties, especially Cambridge, where Harker was in charge, were turning out graduates with sufficient petrological knowledge to be definitely useful with a microscope as soon as enrolled. H. Kynaston, for instance, had been a valuable recruit to the Scottish staff in 1895, but was destined to leave in 1903 to become first Director of the Geological Survey of the Transvaal. In 1901, H. H. Thomas, who followed Flett as Petrographer in 1911, and H. B. Muff (Maufe), who left to be first Director of the Geological Survey of Southern Rhodesia in 1910, were additional examples; and others followed. Flett, as a born teacher, gathered younger members of the staff into his laboratory in Jermyn Street for a few weeks each winter, and parcelled out among them with great and wise generosity attractive portions of the superabundance that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him.

Here we may briefly list the changes that occurred among senior officers during Teall's reign:

  • Woodward retired as Assistant Director for England and Wales in 1908, and Strahan took his place, starting 1909.
  • Horne retired as Assistant Director for Scotland in 1911, and Flett was promoted to the post. Flett had already in 1903 been upgraded to District Geologist rank (still Petrographer) in anticipation of Fox-Strang-way's retirement in 1904—Fox-Strangway's field duties were taken over in 1905 by Lamplugh, returned from Ireland.
  • Flett, as already noticed, was succeeded as Petrographer (District Geologist) in 1911 by H. H. Thomas.
  • Newton as Pal2eontologist (District Geologist) gave place in 1905 to F. L. Kitchin, who had joined the staff in 1898 after doing valuable research under Zittel at Munich. Kitchin was an indefatigable worker, and is as gratefully remembered for his writings on the fossil faunas of India and South Africa as on those of Britain.
  • Gunn in 1902, Peach in 1905, Strahan in 1909 and Reid in 1913 were followed as District Geologists in charge of field units by Clough, Hinxman, Barrow and Gibson respectively.
  • Rudler was succeeded as Curator and Librarian in 1902 by J. A. Howe, who had joined the staff with considerable experience the previous year.

Programme for Great Britain[edit]

Teall's directorate introduced no startling innovations, but one is sensible of a change of emphasis and of a selection and development of such alternative procedures as had in the past proved of special value.

The determination to give economic geology a first place in annual programmes has been maintained ever since. It received a great stimulus from the work of a Royal Commission appointed at the end of 1901 to inquire into ' the extent and available resources of the coalfields of Great Britain.' Teall, Hull, Lapworth and Strahan, the latter added to good purpose in 1903, represented geology. Much work was specially undertaken by other members of staff to supply information. In addition, Survey publications proved of great value, though many were long out of date. The contrast between six-inch and one-inch mapping was, of course, clear to all.

The Royal Commission submitted its final report in 1905. Next year its members laid before the Home Secretary certain suggestions for the improvement and extension of the service which the Survey should give in matters relating to coal supplies ; but the proposals for additional staff required for these purposes were not at the time adopted. In 1909, however, the Board of Education consented to Teall's request to undertake revision of certain coalfields excluded by too rigorous application of the Wharton Committee's priority in favour of primary six-inch mapping. The date is a little amusing for, as we shall soon see, wholehearted revision of the Scottish coalfields, already mapped on the six-inch scale, had been started in 1902, seven years earlier.

In England and Wales, primary six-inch survey of coalfields gave plenty of scope for the time being. It will be remembered how Ramsay had hoped that the coalfields south of Lancashire and Yorkshire, mapped by the Survey on the one-inch scale, would some day be remapped on the six-inch ; and how Geikie had initiated the necessary work in South Wales in 1891 and in the Midlands in 1894. Strahan and Fox-Strangways had been in charge of these two districts, though merely ranking as Geologists. Now as District Geologists under Woodward their hands were strengthened, and both proved extremely capable. Experience led to progressive improvement of coalfield technique. Moreover, the one-inch maps containing the coalfields were revised up to their margins and the South Wales ' surrounds,' in particular, gave plenty of scope for paleontological and petrological research in the Lower Paleozoic by O. T. Jones and H. H. Thomas, and in the Carboniferous Limestone by E. E. L. Dixon.

Among .his colleagues Walcot Gibson became specially identified with coalfield research. He took a particular interest in lithological and paleontological divisions which he did much to establish in the Midlands both in the Productive Coal Measures and in overlying pre-Triassic Barren Red Measures. The latter in many cases he transferred from the Permian of earlier authors to the Carboniferous. For help with fossils he relied mainly upon two outside specialists, Kidston for plants and Wheelton Hind for non-marine lamellibranchs. He also laid great stress upon intercalated marine bands which furnished widespread index horizons. His researches thus had special value for surface and underground exploration of concealed coalfields adjacent to those in actual operation. In later years, 1920, he was to publish the first edition of his book Coal in Great Britain, reminiscent in a way of Hull's Coalfields of Great Britain, of which the first of five editions had appeared in 1861.

Since De la Beche's day the Survey had done little in relation to coal quality. In 1901, however, Pollard started an elaborate chemical examination of the coals of South Wales, already planned in Geikie's time ; and this eventually led to a joint memoir by himself and Strahan on: The Coals of South Wales, with special reference to the Origin and Distribution of Anthracite, 1908. The investigation greatly increased our knowledge of the subject, and its value is recognised by all. There is, however, a disinclination to accept Strahan's conclusion that the essential contrast between the anthracitic and bituminous qualities in South Wales was determined by conditions of deposition rather than of metamorphism.

A third district under Woodward was organised by Clement Reid in charge of the Devon-Cornwall peninsula, where Ussher and two others were already at work. The determination to push forward in this province is easily understood when one remembers the mineral resources of the counties and the little that had been added to the maps since De la Beche's survey. A mining geologist, D. A. MacAlister, was employed from 1902 to 1911. He often recorded the information he collected on maps of the 25 inches to the mile scale ; and he furnished important contributions to several memoirs, especially those on Falmouth and Cam-borne, 1906, and Land's End, 1907. Flett, too, proved of great service throughout the attack upon this region of diversified petrology. In particular he was entrusted with both field and microscopic examination of the famous igneous complex of the Lizard with its attendant metamorphic problems.

Returning to 1901, we may note as a sample of the first year's achievement two results announced by Reid in the corresponding Summary of Progress: (I) The Land's End granite is a complex with two distinct members ; and (2) a Pliocene coast line can be clearly recognised in Cornish scenery 420 ft. above present sea level.

The resurvey proceeded so rapidly in the South-West that by 1913, the year of Reid's retirement, eighteen one-inch maps with corresponding memoirs had appeared. They extended continuously from the Scilly Isles and Trevose Head to Lyme Regis, but did not include North Devon. Ussher, it should be explained, had already published five of these maps ; but until Teall's day he had produced no memoir.

In Scotland in 1901 Horne divided the staff among Peach, Gunn and himself to carry forward or complete work already started among schists and igneous rocks of the West, North and Central Highlands. The Summary of Progress for the year contains references to a discovery near Inchbae in Ross by C. B. Crampton. It relates to a belt, two miles wide, consisting of hornfelsed sediments which, indurated by adjacent granite, had escaped the general Moine-Schist-making metamorphism of the region. Full descriptions, published later in the Geological Magazine, 1910, and the official memoir, 1912, have rendered this occurrence one of the outstanding treasures of Scottish geology (Fig. 25).

Peach, in addition to his mainland responsibilities, was placed in nominal charge of the final mapping in Skye, where Harker was still at work. Harker's memoir on the Tertiary Igneous Rocks of Skye appeared in 1904, and is one of the most important ever published by the Survey.

Together with the apposite parts of two one-inch maps, it represents in splendid fashion the main achievement of its gifted author, appointed, it will be remembered, with one object in view. Accurate mapping and close correlation of field work with microscopic petrology, combined with clear thinking and expression, won immediate world-wide recognition. As a specially original contribution to igneous tectonics one may perhaps single out his separation, from other intrusions, of a group of centrally inclined sheets, which have since come to be descriptively entitled cone-sheets.

Naturally some of Harker's propositions have been questioned, even by those who feel most admiration and gratitude for his work as a whole. A widely criticised departure from Geikie's position concerns his claim that the basalt lavas of Skye have been almost everywhere flooded by sills of substantially later date—it is generally thought that most of these supposed sills are nothing more than the hard interior portions of the lavas themselves.

Harker retired in 1905, after having extended his Skye mapping into Rhum and Eigg.

It might seem from the above narration that Scotland had been forgotten in the planning of economic research, but the programme for 1902 shows that such was not the case. As a general rule Highland geology can only be effectively carried on during the summer, and it is a great advantage for Scottish members of staff to have a Lowland campaign to occupy their attention in spring and autumn. Double-deck programmes were launched by Teall and they proved highly successful. It is interesting to recall that Gibson was, for the winter of 1902-1903, transferred to Scotland to assist his northern colleagues with his experience of recent coalfield procedure.

Goodbye to Ireland[edit]

In Ireland Teall at first adopted an experimental attitude. It was decided to aim at closer contact with the overwhelmingly agricultural interest of the country. No Assistant Director was appointed, but Lamplugh, as District Geologist, was entrusted with a limited objective: the preparation of one-inch drift maps and corresponding memoirs covering the neighbourhood of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Limerick. For this Lamplugh's experience of the glaciation of the Isle of Man in the centre of the Irish Sea basin afforded an excellent introduction.

While the field work was essentially confined to the tracing and examination of Quaternary deposits, hitherto treated in generalised fashion, the memoirs aimed at furnishing an effective guide to the geology as a whole. Full advantage was taken of pre-existing publications, and the result was excellent.

The last of the memoirs, that on The Geology of the country around Limerick, is dated 1907. Its preface is signed by J. J. H. Teall at Jermyn Street, London, and Grenville A. J. Cole at Hume Street, Dublin, and its final paragraph reads as follows:—

On April 1st, 1905, after the main part of this memoir had been prepared, the work of the Geological Survey in Ireland was transferred to the charge of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Dublin. The responsibility for the final revision and issue of the memoir, and of the map which it describes, has thus become shared between two public bodies. This fact, however, which marks a transition rather than a break of continuity, may be regarded as of pleasant augury, and as typical of the free intercommunication and interchange of ideas that will, it is hoped, always subsist between the Geological Surveys of Great Britain and Ireland.

The tales of four cities unfolded during the Lamplugh episode had much more than local interest. They took their place among contending theories as a clear exposition of land-ice glaciation, and greatly extended our knowledge of the shelly boulder clay of Eastern Ireland with its Ailsa Craig and associated erratics. In regard to other glacial phenomena, an exposure of water-eroded limestone at the base of an esker near Dublin told that the stream responsible for this particular gravel ridge flowed at the actual bottom of the containing glacier ; while deserted gorges, elsewhere eroded across spurs by rivers in what now seem impossible situations, provided additional instances of interplay of vanished ice and water. Most of these dry gorges had clearly resulted from marginal diversion, by remaining ice, of water gathering in streams on the land surface, as this was progressively re-exposed during the melting away of the glaciers.

The interpretation of such glacially controlled spillways and the lessons to be learnt from their distribution were at the time exciting special interest among British geologists led by P. F. Kendall, Professor at Leeds. American and Scandinavian geologists had long been familiar with the subject as exemplified in their own lands ; but British geologists had lagged behind. Whether we islanders should be proud or ashamed of the fact, Kendall's revelation came direct from Nature. He told me himself that, on returning home one day from the Cleveland Hills, aglow with discovery, his wife saw that something wonderful had happened ; and to her inquiry he replied: I have met God upon the mountain.'

Another pregnant discovery was made during the Irish investigation. Wright and Muff (Maufe) found beneath boulder clay near Cork an ancient shoreline very little above the present beach. The feature and deposits of this pre-glacial ' coast were soon recognised as widespread in Ireland. Occurrences of what is supposed to be the same beach had long been known bordering the English and Bristol Channels and, since 1891, near Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.

A valuable link between the days of connected and disconnected geological surveys of Great Britain and Ireland is afforded by a substantial volume entitled A Description of the Soil-Geology of Ireland, based upon Geological Survey Maps and Records, with Notes on Climate. It was written by J. R. Kilroe, who had been appointed to the Survey in 1874, and who continued under the new conditions until 1913. It appeared in 1907, published by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland. In a pocket it carries what is generally known as Geikie's colour-printed drift map of Ireland on the scale of ten miles to an inch.

The ' intercommunication and interchange of ideas,' referred to above in Teall and Cole's joint preface, has found personal expression in the wanderings of W. B. Wright, to and fro between Ireland, England and Scotland. Wright was attracted to Geology as a student of mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, through reading Croll's Climate and Time. In 1901 he joined the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland, as it was then, and had the unforgettable delight of apprenticeship under Lamplugh. In 1904 he transferred to England, and in 1905 to Scotland. In 1910 he went back to the now separated Survey of Ireland, where in 1921 he was promoted District Geologist. The same year, however, on the advent of the Free State, he accepted an offer of accession to the Survey of Great Britain and was installed as a highly successful District Geologist in charge of the Lancashire coalfield. In 1914 he had already established his reputation as Britain's leading glaciologist by publication of a book of international standing entitled The Quaternary Ice Age.

Concentration[edit]

Teall was a great upholder of the District Geologist organisation. He favoured team concentration to obtain results in reasonable time with adequate concomitant discussion. It is symptomatic of his outlook that he recast the Summary of Progress so as to present the findings of the year in the form of a series of district reports. Geikie had arranged his successive Summaries primarily on a stratigraphical basis—which incidentally was not appreciated by English contributors as it tended to put Scottish topics in the forefront. Teall, of course, still retained stratigraphical order within each individual district report, and also in his general introductory section.

Another innovation introduced by Teall, and one that continued from 1902 to 1936, was to accept as appendices to the Summaries a number of subject-papers contributed by members of staff, and occasionally by outsiders. Previously, appendices had been reserved for catalogues of type fossils belonging to the Survey collections.

Teall's preference for concentration and collaboration was further shown in his ruling that everyone must henceforward spend the winter at Headquarters in London, Edinburgh or Dublin as the case might be. In Geikie's day and earlier it had been common practice for a surveyor to take a house for himself in a region in which he was likely to be employed for many years to come, as Horne at Inverness, Clough at Dunoon and Howell at Newcastle.

Barrrow returns to England[edit]

Partly as a result of Teall's new ruling about winter quarters, Barrow returned to England in 1903. Since his transfer to Scotland in 1884 Barrow had always maintained a home in London, and had done his indoor work at Jermyn Street. The arrangement had greatly helped his acquisition of petrographical technique, but it had made it specially hard for him to keep in touch with his field colleagues.

Controversies had arisen, as too often in geology, and to straighten them out so far as possible Teall in 1903 arranged a joint excursion to Perthshire of Hornc, Peach, Barrow, Cunningham Craig and Flett. The party did not reach positive conclusions on all the semi-independent issues investigated, but Horne did furnish a report which was in the main adverse to Barrow's ,theories.

Several of the views then held by Barrow and his companions, whether in opposition or in agreement, have since had to be modified or abandoned so that it is difficult to offer a fair comment upon the verdict resulting from this inquiry. It is, however, a fact that most attention was given to the question as to whether the Perthshire Quartzite, anywhere in the district examined, exhibited both its strati-graphical margins, or only its base—whether, in other words, it functioned as an intercalation in the local Highland succession or was an end term restricted at outcrop to a series of isoclinal synclines. Barrow maintained the former view, his opponents the latter. Barrow, all now admit, was right in this matter ; but with total assurance he accepted as a test locality one in which Cunningham Craig had correctly interpreted the local evidence on the single margin hypothesis. It was clear in this particular case, to other members of the party, that Barrow's double-margin alternative was untenable ; and as Barrow himself remained obdurate, his colleagues came to the conclusion (quite wrongly) that his general proposition was mistaken.

It is probable enough that Barrow's removal at this time was good for Highland geology. It gave other workers a breathing space in which to reconsider the problems, and separate so far as in them lay the wheat from the chaff. It is at any rate satisfactory to recall that Barrow was encouraged from Headquarters to explain his views in official and unofficial publications—where, quite properly, readers were informed that different conclusions had been reached by colleagues.

Barrow remained true to himself in his altered geological environment, stirring tip keen inquiry into the origin of the high-level gravels so common in South-East England. It is also pleasant to read the Colliery Guardian for 1904 congratulating him on having foretold the finding of a particular coal seam near Cheadle, North Staffordshire, where the ' old miners' had declared that it did not exist.

Publication[edit]

Teall introduced various reforms that increased the time given to indoor work as compared with field work. We have seen how Ramsay and Geikie both failed somewhat lamentably to implement Murchison's plan that each published one-inch map should have its own explanatory memoir. Teall met the difficulty with a simplicity that suggests administrative genius. He laid done kit the issue of map and memoi '- must be simultaneous ; and by this both-or-nothing policy succeeded in enlisting co-operation at all levels, and in replacing good intentions by planned achievements ; but, of course, more memoirs, fewer maps—though actually the output was extremely satisfactory (Fig. 28).

Teall at the same time did much to improve map publication. He decided upon the issue of a colour-printed 25-milesto-the-inch geological map of the British Isles. This appeared in 1906, after the administrative separation of the Irish Survey. It has been maintained ever since, and has been of great scientific and educational value.

Teall also introduced colour-printing of one-inch maps, starting with the sheet covering Stoke-on-Trent. The innovation has proved a boon, because it has greatly reduced prices to the public. He soon earned further gratitude by embellishment of these colour-printed maps with horizontal and vertical sections to supplement their unmeasured indexes.

Colour-printing eliminates the need for individual check of sale copies, and in practice has reduced colourist errors to a minimum. It also enables maps to be handled out of doors in showery weather. It is, however, necessary for economy's sake to issue a considerable number of copies at one printing, and not to look forward to making even minor changes for a long time to come.

Besides new editions since 1901, Teall wisely published in colour-print several selected one-inch sheets of older date.

Teall also introduced routine publication of six-inch maps of regions of special economic importance, mainly the coalfields. The maps in this case were not colour-printed, but could be purchased either hand-painted or uncoloured. The earliest of this revived suite came from the Staffordshire coalfield, 1903. During Geikie's period, publication of six-inch maps had been all but discontinued, and had totally disregarded the coalfields. The few examples issued covered some of the non-ferrous metalliferous fields of the North of England, as at Alston and Atherstone Moor, the ironstone field of Cleveland, the city site of Liverpool and certain choice localities illustrating overthrusting in the North-West Highlands. Teall, it may be added, included some of Harker's six-inch maps of the Tertiary igneous rocks of Skye in his publication programme for 1905.

Changes at headquarters[edit]

Reorganisation at Jermyn Street, accompanied by some interior rebuilding, greatly improved working and exhibition conditions. Concentration of purpose is again evident. De la Beche's ideal to assemble as complete an illustration as possible of geological applications to industry and the arts had largely been fulfilled by the birth and growth of extraneous institutions. Meanwhile, the fundamental geological needs of the Survey called aloud for more space and attention. Thus, in accordance with one of the recommendations of the Wharton Committee, the pottery collection which Murchison had discussed with the Prince Consort was dispersed. Some of its best specimens went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Other valuable possessions shared in the exodus, among them 12,000 additional volumes handed over to the Science Library.

From very early days efforts had been made to file for reference boring information that could not find space either in memoirs or vertical sections. The task is heavy, for in the books of a mining company or well driller the journals or logs, as they are called, may be very vaguely located, and the items recorded may need much comparative study for identification. In Teall's Annual Report for 1901 we read: ' Some attempt has been made to carry on the work of registering all records of Borings and Well-sinkings which was commenced in 1895 ; but much remains to be done.' Filing systems evolved during Teall's period by junior members of staff engaged in coalfield revision immensely strengthened the handling of mining information ; but well records remained fairly chaotic, in spite of the publication of many Water Supply memoirs. Success was delayed in this matter until the development of a Water Unit and of a second World War.

Happenings overseas[edit]

The main geological event of 1902 was the almost simultaneous eruption of the Soufriere in St. Vincent and Mont Pelee in Martinique. The effects were so devastating and impressive that various national parties were sent out to investigate. On the suggestion of the Colonial Office the Royal Society despatched a commission of two. The choice fell upon Tempest Anderson, above all things an experienced photographer of volcanoes, and Flett, who was accordingly given leave of absence from May to August. Their reports, speedily furnished and full of detail both petrographical and otherwise, were mainly composed by Flett, and rank as a great achievement. In them is to be found the origin of what is now a very generally accepted theory that the down-valley rush of the black cloud (or nuee ardente to use its alternative rather contradictory title) characteristic of these eruptions was determined by gravity. The matter is still under debate, for A. Lacroix claimed, at least in relation to Mont Pelee, effective co-operation of sideways-directed explosive blast. Indeed, a week before his death, Flett told me he thought there was some evidence in favour of Lacroix's interpretation, and that a final decision should await further observations at some repeat performance.

Teall was rather disposed at this time to permit members of staff to undertake special tasks abroad. Thus, in 1903, Cunningham Craig was lent for two years to Trinidad, and Scrivenor for three years to the Malay States. Similarly, in 1905, Maufe was allowed to look for water along the Uganda railway, and Lamplugh to prepare the way for a British Association visit to the Victoria Falls and Zambezi Gorge. Even as late as 1908 Reid spent two months in Cyprus, with water again as objective. Such occasional help had been given before Teall's day ; but presently it became less necessary owing to the development of Colonial Geological Surveys.

Two other widely different overseas events may be included here on account of their interaction with Survey life at home. In 1904 the United States celebrated the centenary of the purchase of Louisiana by mounting a Universal Exposition at St. Louis on an unprecedented scale—it occupied a site of 1,240 acres as compared with the 21 acres allotted to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. On our side a Royal Commission was appointed to help ensure success for British representation, though it proved difficult to interest manufacturers who at the time were finding American tariffs prohibitive. Peach and Strahan were entrusted by Teall with the production of large-scale coloured models of the tectonically interesting districts of Assynt in the North-West Highlands of Scotland and Purbeck in the South of England. Copies of these models, furnished with descriptive pamphlets, find place today in a number of museums.

Then again there was the twelfth session of the International Geological Congress assembled in 1913 at Toronto. Its main publication was a three-volume quarto monograph on The Coal Resources of the World. Strahan, who had played a particularly active part in helping to prepare the 1905 report of the Royal Commission on our own coal supplies, was given the task of furnishing the British contribution.

Edinburgh, 1902 and later[edit]

In 1902 I had the great good fortune to join the Survey and to be sent to Scotland. Edinburgh in those days was as invigorating a geological centre as when the followers of Hutton and Werner contended for supremacy. Peach and Horne were in the ascendant, intensely interested in all aspects of their subject and flood-lit by the glory of the North-West Highlands—the great memoir on which, as already mentioned, duly appeared in 1907. Clough, much less conspicuous, had amazing discoveries and hypotheses to impart. Goodchild, at the Museum, was deservedly winning and maintaining popular interest. R. H. Traquair, also at the Museum though not a Survey colleague, and Robert Kidston were acknowledged masters of the fishes and plants of the Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous. Their recognition of a ' break ' in the Carboniferous succession of freshwater fish and land plants afforded a special incentive during the Survey revision of the Scottish coalfields, which started in 1902. Sir John Murray, of the Challenger Office, was much in evidence, mainly engaged in directing a comprehensive survey of Scottish lakes as they exist today. Kendall, too, was coming across the Border to investigate other lakes, which had vanished with the melting of the glaciers, but which in many cases had left tell-tale eroded spillways. James Geikie also must not be forgotten, though by now his local influence, outside the University, was felt more in geographical than geological circles. No wonder a newcomer soon realised that he moved among a jostling crowd of problems awaiting solution.

Horne's attitude to recruits was partly determined by his experiences under Archibald Geikie. For years he had suffered from frustration owing to the latter's objection to subordinates publishing results obtained during official service, except in official memoirs—which latter, all too often, failed to materialise. Horne had promised himself that if ever the power came into his hands he would treat others as he himself had longed to be treated. Mirabile dicta, he kept his promise ! He encouraged research to the uttermost, and if results followed he urged publication, within or without official covers according to the special circumstances. The public interest was never better served.

The whole question of outside publication by publicly employed scientists presents matters of great difficulty, which of late years have increasingly exercised the minds of politicians responsible for expenditure of public money. It is impossible to draw a hard and fast line between what may be called the public and the private thinking of a civil-servant scientist. Accordingly, it seems to some, I think to the majority, that a scientist who has become a civil servant should accept a discipline controlling his right to publish on almost any subject. I do not agree. Instead, I should limit censorship to:—strategic matters, involving the safety of the realm ; economic matters, where among other things suggestion of corruption may arise; and fair dealing, for it is important that a civil-servant scientist should not improperly anticipate or criticise a colleague (inferior or superior) or indeed anyone else in the world. If some such standard were officially adopted it would probably be found workable. What is most dreaded by a scientist is a comprehensive power of veto, which may prevent his offering a theory for publication just because a superior officer thinks the theory wrong. Publicly maintained research-institutes must aim at a reputation for sensibly administered freedom, or else they must accept the alternative of trying to do their work with second-rate recruits. Pay without opportunity is not enough to attract a real scientist.

When Flett replaced Horne in 1911 a great change came over the Scottish Survey. In part this was due to the fact that the new Assistant Director was deaf, which tended to isolation of thought. On the publication question he unfortunately went even further than Geikie, though from different motives. He claimed universal veto, whereas Geikie had admitted that unofficial work lay outside his jurisdiction. I have no doubt that Flett's object was to purge the writings of his subordinates of error ; but it is difficult to understand how an important officer of the Survey could want to extend his official power of censorship, since, as a matter of history, the names of almost all high-ranking Geological Surveyors are linked with theories that have come to be discarded.

Further developments in England and Wales[edit]

A few words will suffice to complete our outline sketch of happenings in England and Wales during Teall's highly successful term of office.

The field work planned for the three original operative districts, namely, South Wales, the Midlands, and Cornwallto-Lyme Regis, was finished by 1909 ; by which time also a special map and memoir of the Oxford district had appeared for the convenience of the University at its centre. Accordingly, in 1910 field-work was transferred to the Denbighshire coalfield under Lamplugh, to a further Midland group of coalfields under Barrow, and to London and South-East England under Reid. On Reid's retirement in 1913, Barrow was put in charge of the London district and Gibson took over in the Midlands.

The choice of London and South-East England as a successor to Cornwall and the West was determined by density of population. Detailed information in regard to the solid and drift geology of the Metropolis and its surrounds is in everyday demand.

Underground water[edit]

Underground water constitutes one of the main economic interests of South-East England. Mention has already been made of County Water Supply memoirs started by Geikie in 1899. Under Teall eleven examples appeared, covering much of the south-eastern area and extending north into the East Riding of Yorkshire. The work of producing these memoirs fell mostly outside the district organisation of the Survey, and much of it was entrusted to Whitaker (retired), with the co-operation in regard to rainfall statistics of the famous meteorologist Hugh Robert Mill. In four cases, however, including Records of London Wells, Whitaker's name does not appear on the title page. The production of the London volume, for instance, fitted comfortably into the programme of the London and South-East district, and both its authors, G. Barrow and L. J. Wills, were drawn from the active list of the Survey. This memoir was particularly important owing to the progressive drop which pumping causes in the water-level established in wells sunk to the Chalk under the Metropolis, a feature well illustrated in contour-maps.

It may come as a surprise to readers to learn that the Water Supply memoirs of the Survey are well worth attention, even from those who are not in search of a new source of the essential fluid, or of some obscure stratigraphical detail. Admittedly the serried ranks of well journals are as dull as they are useful ; but with them is combined introductory material that appeals strongly to the imagination. The London memoir probably takes first place in this respect. It is, however, closely followed by Whitaker's Water Supply of Kent, where 68 pages are devoted to such matters as shafts and galleries, geological succession, rainfall (Mill), springs, swallow holes and intermittent streams. The whole county depends upon underground sources, apart from widespread household storage of rain. Even so, it may interest our transatlantic friends to learn that the Kent Water Company, now forming part of the Metropolitan Water Board, operated at the time of publication the world's largest supply of water drawn solely from wells.

Progress in Scotland[edit]

In the Highlands of Scotland Clough, after finishing with the early granite and resistant hornfels of Inchbae in Ross, changed places with Peach, taking over in the West instead of the North. Peach asked for the transfer to enable him to guide current research on Lewisian inliers ' and associated Moines. Much new information was gathered on this subject, but the interpretation is still regarded as debatable. Presently, after Peach's retirement, the Northern Gang' under Hinxman included the Central as well as the Northern Highlands in their scope. Thus, in the Rannoch district, they came in contact with recent work of their Western fellows, with consequences to which further reference will be made in a moment.

Meanwhile, the Western ' Gang ' developed in Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and Mull many novel or semi-novel ideas on igneous tectonics, including cauldron-subsidences, both subaerial and subterranean, ring-dykes, cone-schists, dyke-swarms and peripheral folding. At the same time in the schists of the Ballachulish and Fort William district they established the presence of recumbent folds of amazing horizontal extent, accompanied by fold-faults, or slides, that cut out great thicknesses of strata. The first important announcements in regard to the cauldron subsidence of Glen Coe and the recumbent fold of Ballachulish were made in the Summary of Progress for 1905. A much fuller account of the tectonics followed in the Summary for 1908 ; while Ben Nevis was described in that for 1909. Maufe played a great part in these stirring days, in which I had the good fortune to assist.

Thanks to R. G. Carruthers of the Northern Gang' a very important modification of detail was soon demanded in that part of the Ballachulish district, which includes the upper reaches of Loch Leven. I had wrongly thought that there was enough evidence to assign all the local rocks to one quartzite and one mica-schist, repeated by folding, whereas there are really three of each. The circumstances are so complex that I could not for a long time decide whether or no to accept Carruthers' correction—and here I must record my thanks to Flett for full facilities for re-examination. Eventually, however, a visit of three young graduates from overseas, trained to the use of current bedding, supplied the means to settle the dispute. The direct and indirect results have constituted a major advance in our appreciation of Highland structures. For instance, at the head of Loch Leven, a tyro in geology can now see, by examining current bedding, that all the rocks are upside down for a distance of six miles across strike. The main stages in this welcome development of knowledge can be followed on consulting the Summary of Progress for 1912, the Geological Magazine for 1930 and the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society for 1934. (It has since been found that Patrick Ganly, one of Sir Richard Griffith's men in Ireland, was using current bedding to demonstrate inversion as long ago as 1838 !)

In the Scottish coalfield revision, undertaken under Teall, much stratigraphical, paleontological, petrographical and glacial progress was made, with work first centred about Edinburgh and later Glasgow. At the same time closer and more continual co-operation was established with the mining world than anywhere else in Britain.

Teall retires[edit]

Teall's retirement came at the beginning of 1914. By this time he had firmly established as a Survey ideal:

The provision of a reasonably up-to-date colour-printed geological map covering the whole country on the one-inch scale, each sheet to be accompanied by an explanatory memoir.

This one-inch map is to be based everywhere on six-inch field-mapping. In the case of districts of special economic importance, the fundamental six-inch maps must themselves be published. In other districts they must be held available for reference.

In view of his circumscribed man-power Teall had made a full contribution towards the attainment of this ideal. He was knighted in 1916, by this time a spectator of the First World War. By strange coincidence he died in 1924, the same year as his predecessor in office, Archibald Geikie. We may quote again from Marr: ' A beautiful life is ended, but its effects will be long felt for good in the future.'