2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


BERRY, William B.N., Earth and Planetary Science, Univ of California, 307 McCone MC 4767, Berkeley, CA 94720, bberry@uclink.berkeley.edu

John Whitehurst's “An Inquiry into the Original State and Formation of the Earth” published in 1778 encompasses two distinct parts. Of the two, the second or Appendix, which is entitled ”General Observations on the Strata in Derbyshire,” indicates the value that knowledge of the stratigraphic superposition of rock units has in understanding earth history and in practical application in mining. The Appendix includes six stratigraphic cross sections. Three of these cross sections are of coal-bearing sequences and three are of successions that include limestones associated with lead ores. The lithologic aspects of the strata depicted in the sections are described in significant detail. Whitehurst stated that he had obtained many of these details from miners, “particularly Mr. George Tiffington.” Whitehurst stated that “all strata accompanying the coals abound in vegetable forms,” an observation that led him to suggest that coals originated from vegetable matter. Whitehurst commented in the Preface to the Appendix that stratigraphic sections should be useful in ”leading to discovery of those things which are concealed from our observations in the lower regions of the earth.” He went on to say: “I am fully persuaded in my own mind, that if the strata in all mineral countries were faithfully represented by sections, it would furnish miners with superior ideas of their respective works, and enable them to proceed in their works with more propriety.” He suggested that a museum be established to display strata and their contained fossils in the same stratigraphic order as could be seen in nature to enhance understanding of stratigraphic superposition.