Editing Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland: A contemporary account of the Survey, 1897

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=== Base maps ===
 
=== Base maps ===
 
[[File:SummProg1897_FIG07.jpg|thumbnail|1832 Standard colours.]]
 
  
 
The first and most important duty of the Survey is to map in detail the geological structure of the country. When this task was first undertaken by De La Beche the Ordnance Survey maps on the scale of one inch to a mile (1:63,360) which had then been published for some of the southern counties of England, and which he used as the basis of his work, were imperfect and incorrect in their topography. They were among the first undertakings of the Ordnance Survey, before methods of surveying had been brought to the perfection that has since been attained. The possession of a correct topographical map is absolutely necessary as the ground-work of a detailed and accurate geological survey. From the outset the Ordnance maps have afforded the topographical ground-work on which all the geological surveying has been carried on. For many years only the sheets of the general map on the one-inch scale were available, but when, in the progress of the Ordnance Survey, maps on larger scales were prepared, these, as already remarked, were employed for geological purposes.
 
The first and most important duty of the Survey is to map in detail the geological structure of the country. When this task was first undertaken by De La Beche the Ordnance Survey maps on the scale of one inch to a mile (1:63,360) which had then been published for some of the southern counties of England, and which he used as the basis of his work, were imperfect and incorrect in their topography. They were among the first undertakings of the Ordnance Survey, before methods of surveying had been brought to the perfection that has since been attained. The possession of a correct topographical map is absolutely necessary as the ground-work of a detailed and accurate geological survey. From the outset the Ordnance maps have afforded the topographical ground-work on which all the geological surveying has been carried on. For many years only the sheets of the general map on the one-inch scale were available, but when, in the progress of the Ordnance Survey, maps on larger scales were prepared, these, as already remarked, were employed for geological purposes.
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=== Introduction of mapping superficial deposits ===
 
=== Introduction of mapping superficial deposits ===
 
[[File:SummProg1897_FIG08.jpg|thumbnail|First engraved edition (1851) of the one-inch geological map of Snowdon with Andrew Ramsay’s MS addition of ‘Glacial scratch marks’, c.1852. Ramsay (who worked under De la Beche and eventually became Director of the Geological Survey) was the first person to thoroughly examine the evidence for glacial action in North Wales.]]
 
  
 
Geologists had made considerable progress in the study of the solid rocks before much attention was paid to the looser superficial deposits. The Geological Survey in this respect followed the general rule, and for many years made no systematic attempt to represent the numerous and often complex accumulations of superficial materials. Some of these, indeed, were shown on the maps, such as tracts of blown sand and river alluvium. But it must be remembered that in the south-western counties, where the Geological Survey began its work, superficial deposits are of such trifling extent and importance that they were not unnaturally ignored. Only after most of the southern half of England had been completed was it determined to map the surface-deposits with as much care and detail as had been expended on the older formations lying beno.1th' them. It had been discovered that this course was necessary both on scientific and practical grounds. In the first place, these superficial accumulations contained the records of the later geological vicissitudes of Britain, and were beginning to reveal a story of the profoundest interest, inasmuch as it dovetailed with the history of the human occupation of the country. In the second place, it was recognised that in many various ways these surface-deposits had a direct and vital influence upon the welfare of the population. In agriculture, in water-supply, in questions of drainage, and of the location of dwellings, it was seen that a knowledge of the soils and subsoil, and of the formations from which these are derived, was of the utmost practical importance. It was therefore determined that henceforth, the Geological Survey should not only portray the lineaments of the solid earth, but trace out the drifts and other surface-deposits which, like a garment, overspread and conceal them. It was impossible at first to go back over the ground where the surface-geology had been omitted. But it was arranged that when the whole country had once been mapped those tracts should he re-examined wherein the superficial deposits had not been surveyed. And, in the meantime, over new areas the survey was made complete by tracing out simultaneously both the surface deposits and the older rocks below them.
 
Geologists had made considerable progress in the study of the solid rocks before much attention was paid to the looser superficial deposits. The Geological Survey in this respect followed the general rule, and for many years made no systematic attempt to represent the numerous and often complex accumulations of superficial materials. Some of these, indeed, were shown on the maps, such as tracts of blown sand and river alluvium. But it must be remembered that in the south-western counties, where the Geological Survey began its work, superficial deposits are of such trifling extent and importance that they were not unnaturally ignored. Only after most of the southern half of England had been completed was it determined to map the surface-deposits with as much care and detail as had been expended on the older formations lying beno.1th' them. It had been discovered that this course was necessary both on scientific and practical grounds. In the first place, these superficial accumulations contained the records of the later geological vicissitudes of Britain, and were beginning to reveal a story of the profoundest interest, inasmuch as it dovetailed with the history of the human occupation of the country. In the second place, it was recognised that in many various ways these surface-deposits had a direct and vital influence upon the welfare of the population. In agriculture, in water-supply, in questions of drainage, and of the location of dwellings, it was seen that a knowledge of the soils and subsoil, and of the formations from which these are derived, was of the utmost practical importance. It was therefore determined that henceforth, the Geological Survey should not only portray the lineaments of the solid earth, but trace out the drifts and other surface-deposits which, like a garment, overspread and conceal them. It was impossible at first to go back over the ground where the surface-geology had been omitted. But it was arranged that when the whole country had once been mapped those tracts should he re-examined wherein the superficial deposits had not been surveyed. And, in the meantime, over new areas the survey was made complete by tracing out simultaneously both the surface deposits and the older rocks below them.
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=== Rock and fossil collecting ===
 
=== Rock and fossil collecting ===
 
[[File:SummProg1897_FIG09.jpg|thumbnail|''Pecopteris miltoni'' Artis. From the Kidston collection of fossil plants]]
 
 
  
 
While the field-work is in progress the surveyors collect, for the purposes of their maps and explanatory memoirs, such specimens of minerals, rocks, and fossils as may be found to require special examination. But a more systematic collection is carried out under their supervision by the collectors, for study by the petrographers and palaeontologists and for exhibition in the museums. Each branch of the Survey has one or two collectors, who move from district to district as their services are required. When one of them begins work in any area, he is supplied with a map on which the field-officer who surveyed it has marked every locality that should be searched, and also with a list of these localities, giving local details as to the rocks to be specially searched or examined, and the kind of specimens to be looked for and collected. When necessary, the surveyor accompanies the collector to the ground and starts him on his duties. Every specimen which the collector sends up to the office has a number affixed to it, and is entered in the lists, which are also at the same time transmitted to headquarters. The specimen are then unpacked and treated by the palaeontologists or petrographers, as the case may be. In this manner a remarkably complete illustration of the geology of the United Kingdom has been accumulated by the Survey, and it is constantly receiving additions and improvements. The chief series is deposited in the Museum of Practical Geology, London; but the geology of Scotland is most fully represented in the Museum of Science and Art in Edinburgh, and that of Ireland in the corresponding Museum at Dublin.
 
While the field-work is in progress the surveyors collect, for the purposes of their maps and explanatory memoirs, such specimens of minerals, rocks, and fossils as may be found to require special examination. But a more systematic collection is carried out under their supervision by the collectors, for study by the petrographers and palaeontologists and for exhibition in the museums. Each branch of the Survey has one or two collectors, who move from district to district as their services are required. When one of them begins work in any area, he is supplied with a map on which the field-officer who surveyed it has marked every locality that should be searched, and also with a list of these localities, giving local details as to the rocks to be specially searched or examined, and the kind of specimens to be looked for and collected. When necessary, the surveyor accompanies the collector to the ground and starts him on his duties. Every specimen which the collector sends up to the office has a number affixed to it, and is entered in the lists, which are also at the same time transmitted to headquarters. The specimen are then unpacked and treated by the palaeontologists or petrographers, as the case may be. In this manner a remarkably complete illustration of the geology of the United Kingdom has been accumulated by the Survey, and it is constantly receiving additions and improvements. The chief series is deposited in the Museum of Practical Geology, London; but the geology of Scotland is most fully represented in the Museum of Science and Art in Edinburgh, and that of Ireland in the corresponding Museum at Dublin.

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