William Smith and the development of engineering geology in England

Forster, A.; Reeves, Helen. 2008 William Smith and the development of engineering geology in England. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 41 (2). 165-170.

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William Smith started his career in a world where much was known of geological matters and, with the publication of Hutton's Theory of the Earth, knowledge was being tempered by understanding. His early training as a surveyor gave him the skills of accurate observation and recording together with a geographically wide experience that enabled him to recognize that strata could be ordered, and outcrops correlated, by the fossils that they contained. He first recorded this new concept in 1797 and used it to create the world's first geological map (of the area around Bath) in 1799 and the first geological map of England and Wales in 1815. The national map was not only geologically detailed and accurate but also showed collieries, mines, canals and reclaimed land. Smith's intention was for it to show where to look for (and not look for) minerals. Thus, his recognition of ordered correlatable strata, his creation of the first geological map, his expertise in draining land, stabilizing landslides and planning canal routes amply demonstrates his ability to create, and apply, the 3D geological model that is a prime requisite in modern engineering geological practice. Therefore, he should be regarded as the first engineering geologist of the modern world. This paper will demonstrate the validity of this assertion.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > Land use and development
ISSN: 0481-2085
Additional Keywords: William Smith, Engineering geology, England
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 02 Jul 2008 11:18 +0 (UTC)

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