Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


LEVITON, Alan E., Institute of Biodiversity Science and Sustainability, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118 and ALDRICH, Michele, California Academy of Sciences, 24 Elm Street, Hatfield, MA 01038,

By 1879, the Geological Survey of India staff had issued dozens of reports in three GSI publication formats (Memoirs, Records, and Palaeontologica Indica) and contributed many articles to journals of various Asiatic Societies, e.g., Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, as well as the Annals and Magazine of Natural History and Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London. Apart from Eduard Suess and the survey geologists themselves, few scientists could get their heads around such a wealth of material. In 1879, Henry Medlicott (with the survey since 1854 and its superintendent/director following Thomas Oldham’s retirement in 1876) and William Blanford (since 1854) coauthored two of the four volumes of the Geology of India, which covered the general geology of India (vol. 3 [1881], by Valentine Ball, was devoted to economic geology, and vol. 4 [1887], by Frederick Mallet, to mineralogy). The whole devoted considerable attention to the primary mission of the survey, notably the development of India’s natural resources, especially its coal fields, for the benefit of the British imperial economy. But also included were many innovative ideas of great interest to geologists generally, e.g., the first report of Permian glaciation in what is now a tropical region, the Gondwana stratigraphic sequence and System and probably extent beyond the Indian Peninsula, the character of the Deccan basalts, and the Himalaya Mountains. These topics heretofore had made only modest inroads into the stay-at-home European geological conscience but were to be effectively interwoven into a global perspective with an tectonic overprint by Eduard Suess in his monumental multi-volume work, Das Antlitz der Erde (1885-1909), who also benefited from both the Medlicott/Blanford publication as well as additional conceptual contributions by his son-in-law, Melchior Neumayr, by William Blanford, and others.