Editing Antecedents, first hundred years of the Geological Survey of Great Britain

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The inevitable reaction ensued, and a return to common sense and reasonable speculation followed in due time.
 
The inevitable reaction ensued, and a return to common sense and reasonable speculation followed in due time.
  
Its herald was James Hutton, a Scottish gentleman and manufacturer with a taste for experimental farming and metaphysical philosophy. From this strange parentage was produced a treatise on the Theory of the Earth, which was at once supremely original and perfectly conclusive. Hutton argued that all the phenomena exhibited in the rocks of the earth’s crust might be explained by causes operating at the present day. What was essentially necessary was a sufficiency of time. The rocks might be classified as being of igneous or of sedimentary origin. The sedimentary rocks were built up of the fragments of still older rocks, decomposed, disintegrated, transported and deposited in the same manner as at the present day. For all sedimentary rocks there must have been still older rocks from which they were derived. The process had gone on since the earliest geological times. There was no sign of a beginning or of an end. As it is now, it had been since the dawn of time.
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Its herald was James Hutton, a Scottish gentleman and manufacturer with a taste for experimental farming and metaphysical philosophy. From this strange parentage was produced a treatise on the Theory of the Earth, which was at once supremely original and perfectly conclusive. Hutton argued that all the phenomena exhibited in the rocks of the earth’s cruet might be explained by causes operating at the present day. What was essentially necessary was a sufficiency of time. The rocks might be classified as being of igneous or of sedimentary origin. The sedimentary rocks were built up of the fragments of still older rocks, decomposed, disintegrated, transported and deposited in the same manner as at the present day. For all sedimentary rocks there must have been still older rocks from which they were derived. The process had gone on since the earliest geological times. There was no sign of a beginning or of an end. As it is now, it had been since the dawn of time.
  
 
The igneous rocks were ascribed to the action of the earth’s internal heat. Some were of volcanic origin; others, such as granite, were molten masses which by their heat altered and crystallized the rocks which they invaded. Hutton was supported by his friend Sir James Hall, who proved by a long series of experiments that it was quite reasonable to believe that the rocks known as basalt, greenstone and whinstone in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh were ultimately of volcanic origin.
 
The igneous rocks were ascribed to the action of the earth’s internal heat. Some were of volcanic origin; others, such as granite, were molten masses which by their heat altered and crystallized the rocks which they invaded. Hutton was supported by his friend Sir James Hall, who proved by a long series of experiments that it was quite reasonable to believe that the rocks known as basalt, greenstone and whinstone in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh were ultimately of volcanic origin.
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In 1834 in his Presidential Address Greenough informed the Geological Society that  
 
In 1834 in his Presidential Address Greenough informed the Geological Society that  
  
:Mr. De la Beche, one of our Vice-Presidents, acting under the Direction of the Board of Ordnance, has produced a geological map of the county of Devon, which, for extent and minuteness of information and beauty of execution, has a very high claim to regard. Let us rejoice in the complete success which has attended this first attempt of that honourable Board to exalt the character of English topography by rendering it at once more scientific and very much more useful to the country at large.
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Mr. De la Beche, one of our Vice-Presidents, acting under the Direction of the Board of Ordnance, has produced a geological map of the county of Devon, which, for extent and minuteness of information and beauty of execution, has a very high claim to regard. Let us rejoice in the complete success which has attended this first attempt of that honourable Board to exalt the character of English topography by rendering it at once more scientific and very much more useful to the country at large.
  
 
In 1835 Greenough was again President of the Geological Society and in his Presidential Address made the following announcement.
 
In 1835 Greenough was again President of the Geological Society and in his Presidential Address made the following announcement.
  
:The researches of your Vice-President (De la Beche) in the counties of Devon and Somerset have been carried on this year with increased energy. Of the eight Sheets of the Ordnance Map upon which he has been engaged, four were published last spring, three others are complete, the eighth is nearly complete, and an explanatory memoir with sheets of sections applying to the whole are to be published before our next anniversary. Let us hope that the work so admirably begun may not be suffered to terminate here.
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The researches of your Vice-President (De la Beche) in the counties of Devon and Somerset have been carried on this year with increased energy. Of the eight Sheets of the Ordnance Map upon which he has been engaged, four were published last spring, three others are complete, the eighth is nearly complete, and an explanatory memoir with sheets of sections applying to the whole are to be published before our next anniversary. Let us hope that the work so admirably begun may not be suffered to terminate here.
 
 
[[Category:History of the British Geological Survey]]
 

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