New Book | Strata

Posted in books by Editor on August 21, 2021

Published by Thames & Hudson and The University of Chicago Press:

Edited by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with an introduction by Douglas Palmer and a foreword by Robert Macfarlane, Strata: William Smith’s Geological Maps (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2020), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-0226754888, $65.

Book cover, with grey lettering on a blue background.Lavishly illustrated with full-color geological maps, tables of strata, geological cross-sections, photographs, and fossil illustrations from the archives of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Geological Society, the London Natural History Museum, and others, Strata provides the first complete presentation of the revolutionary work of nineteenth-century geologist William Smith, the so-called father of English geology. It illustrates the story of his career, from apprentice to surveyor for hire and fossil collector, from his 1799 geological map of Bath and table of strata to his groundbreaking 1815 geological strata map, and from his imprisonment for debt to his detailed stratigraphical county maps.

This sumptuous volume begins with an introduction by Douglas Palmer that places Smith’s work in the context of earlier, concurrent, and subsequent ideas regarding the structure and natural processes of the earth, geographical mapping, and biostratigraphical theories. The book is then organized into four parts, each beginning with four sheets from Smith’s hand-colored, 1815 strata map, accompanied by related geological cross-sections and county maps, and followed by fossil illustrations by Smith contemporary James Sowerby, all organized by strata. Essays between each section explore the aims of Smith’s work and its application in the fields of mining, agriculture, cartography and hydrology. Strata concludes with reflections on Smith’s later years as an itinerant geologist and surveyor, plagiarism by a rival, receipt of the first Wollaston Medal in recognition of his achievements, and the influence of his geological mapping and biostratigraphical theories on the sciences—all of which culminated in the establishment of the modern geological timescale.


Foreword — Robert Macfarlane
Introduction — Douglas Palmer

Borders and the North
Fossils: London Clay to Greensand
i  Apprentice — Peter Wigley

Wales and Central England
Fossils: Brickearth to Clunch Clay and Shale
ii  Mineral Prospector — Peter Wigley
iii  Field Work — Dave Williams

East Anglia and the South East
Fossils: Kelloways Stone to Fuller’s Earth Rock
iv  Cartographer — Tom Sharpe
v  Fossil Collector — Jill Darrell and Diana Clements

The West
Fossils: Blue Marl to Redland Limestone
vi  Well Sinker — John Mather
vii  Mentor — John Henry

Table Detailing William Smith’s Fossils Featured as Photographic Plates in This Book

Bibliography and Sources of Illustrations
Index and Acknowledgments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: