2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


DIEMER, John A., Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223 and KRZYWIEC, Piotr, Polish Geological Institute, ul. Rakowiecka 4, Warsaw, 00-975, Poland, jadiemer@uncc.edu

Roderick Murchison had a tremendous impact on the development of 19th century geology. His major scientific achievements included identifying the Silurian, Devonian and Permian Systems, compilation of geologic maps of Wales, Scotland, Russia and Europe, publication of more than180 scientific papers, presidential addresses to the Geological Society, the British Association and the Royal Geographical Society, and three major books (Silurian System, The Geology of Russia and Siluria). Murchison's impressive scientific output was possible given his tremendous energy and networking skills. Murchison also was a master of logistics and he developed a fieldwork methodology that facilitated rapid progress when mapping large areas. The methodology comprised research and correspondence in advance of a trip, assembly of publications and maps covering the area to be investigated, networking with local experts so that he could examine their fossil collections and geologic maps, arranging for geological traveling companions to confirm his findings, and prompt announcement of results both at meetings and in print. A good example of his methodology in action is his trip to Poland in the summer of 1843. He was familiar with the Polish work of von Buch and Boué. His route took him from Berlin to Warsaw where he met Professor Zejszner and Mr. Evans, an English mining proprietor. In Warsaw, he examined the royal fossil collection and geologic maps prepared by Zejszner and Pusch. He traveled from Warsaw to Kielce and the Holy Cross Mountains with Professor Zejszner and Mr. Evans,and to Krakow and the Carpathian Mountains with Professor Zejszner. He kept a record of his observations in the form of field notebooks, letters to his wife, Charlotte, and a personal diary. Many of his findings were first announced at the British Association and the Geological Society. Part of his Polish work was published in The Geology of Russia (1845); he also published a paper on the Carpathians in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. The local geologists benefited from interacting with Murchison and he remained on good terms with them after the work was completed.