Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

On a whim today, I decided to trace my academic family tree (i.e. my Ph.D. supervisor being my academic parent; their supervisor, my academic grandparent … and so forth). I was stunned to get back to the early 1600s, before the English Civil War, and with some illustrious scientists in my academic heritage line.

Ian G Stimpson (Cardiff – geophysics)

Robert G Pearce (Newcastle – geophysics)

One of my academic forefathers, Isaac Newton. Source wikimedia.

Ronald W Girdler 1930-2001 (Cambridge – geophysics)

Edward C Bullard 1907-1980 (Cambridge – nuclear physics)

Patrick M S Blackett 1897–1974 (Cambridge – nuclear physics)

Ernest Rutherford 1871–1937 (Cambridge – nuclear physics)

Joseph J Thomson 1856-1940 (Cambridge – nuclear physics)

Edward John Routh 1831–1907 (Cambridge – mathematics)

William Hopkins 1793–1866 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Adam Sedgwick 1785-1873 (Cambridge – geology)

Thomas Jones 1756–1807 (Cambridge – mathematics)

John Cranke 1746-1816 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Thomas Postlethwaite 1731-1798 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Stephen Whisson ?-1783 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Walter Taylor c1700-1743/4 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Robert Smith 1689-1768 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Roger Cotes 1682—1716 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Isaac Newton 1642-1727 (Cambridge – mathematics)

Isaac Barrow 1630–1677 (Cambridge – mathematics)

James Duport 1606-1697 (Cambridge – classics)

Robert Hitch ?-1677 (Cambridge – ?)

… truly standing on the shoulders of giants.

Darwin the Geologist

Charles Darwin reputedly discovered a Cenozoic igneous dyke which, in part, runs under Keele University campus where I work. The fact that Charles Darwin made significant geological observations as well as biological ones is being noted currently in the geoblogosphere, notably Callan at NOVA geoblog giving a talk on Darwin the Geologist, Chris M at Pools & Riffles showing beautiful geological cross-sections that Darwin made in South America and Julia at Ethical Palaeontologist embarking on twelve days of Darwin amongst others.

In my own small way I’m contributing to the celebration of the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth by leading a geological walk around Maer, Staffordshire in March. Darwin visited Maer on many occasions, made his observations on earthworms here, and was married to Emma Wedgwood in Maer church.

However, the point of this post is to give a heads-up the the Geological Society (of London) is giving open access throughout 2009 to the papers that he published with the Geological Society. There are 10 papers in total- three in the Transactions of the Geological Society of London and seven in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society.

Charles Darwin
‘On the Thickness of the Pampean Formation, near Buenos Ayres’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 19: 68-71.

C. Darwin
‘On British Fossil Lepadidæ’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 6: 439-440.

C. Darwin
‘On the Transportal of Erratic Boulders from a lower to a higher level’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 4: 315-323.

Charles Darwin
‘An account of the Fine Dust which often falls on Vessels in the Atlantic Ocean’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 2: 26-30.

C. Darwin
‘On the Geology of the Falkland Islands’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 2: 267-274.

Charles Darwin
‘The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs; being the first Part of the Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle under the Command of Capt. Fitzroy, R.N. during the Years 1832 to 1836: Naturalist to the Expedition. London, pp. 214. 1842’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 1845, 1: 381-389.

Charles Darwin
‘Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands visited during the voyage of H. M. S. Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope ; being the second part of the Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. Fitzroy, R. N., during the years 1832 to 1836: London, pp. 176, with a map of the Island of Ascension’
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 1845, 1: 556-558.

Charles Darwin
‘XXVII.—On the Distribution of the Erratic Boulders and on the Contemporaneous Unstratified Deposits of South America’
Transactions of the Geological Society of London s2-6: 415-431.

Charles Darwin
‘XXXV.—On the Formation of Mould’
Transactions of the Geological Society of London s2-5: 505-509.

Charles Darwin
‘XLII.—On the Connexion of certain Volcanic Phenomena in South America; and on the Formation of Mountain Chains and Volcanos, as the Effect of the same Power by which Continents are elevated’
Transactions of the Geological Society of London s2-5: 601-631.

Source: Geological Society

Do you know your crozzle from your hussle?

I’ve been working on my latest geotrail and doing some reading in old geological memoirs. The sections on coal measures rocks use many old mining terms. Being a lover of both geology and the English language I think that there are some beautiful words here.

Since I’ve been compling a list of the words and their definitions I thought that I’d share them here. I don’t think that you will find most of these words in glossaries.

I’m indebted to William Gresley’s “A glossary of terms used in coal mining” published by E & F.N. Spon in 1883. (Also Cope F.W. Geological Magazine; January 1949; v. 86; no. 1; p. 36-42 for crozzle and hussle)

BACK. Cleavage in coal with a smooth parting and some sooty coal included in it.

BALK. A sudden thinning out of a seam of coal.

BALLSTONES. Ironstone. (North Staffordshire)

BANNOCK. Brownish grey clay suitable for making into firebricks. (Shropshire)

BASS. Black carbonaceous shale.

BAUM-POT. Calcareous nodule in the shale roof of the “Halifax Hard” coal seam. (Yorkshire)

BEARS. Calcareous clay-ironstone in nodules. (Derbyshire)

BIBBLEY ROCK. Conglomerate or pebbly rock. (South Staffordshire)

BIND or BINDS. Indurated argillaceous shale or clay, very commonly forming the roof of a coal seam and frequently containing clay ironstone.

BLACKBAND. Carbonaceous ironstone in beds, mingled with coaly matter.

BLACK-BATT. Black carbonaceous shale.

BLACK-JACK. A kind of cannel coal. (Derbyshire)

BLACK MUCK or BLACK MOULD. A dark-brown powdery substance, consisting of silica, alumina and iron found in iron mines. (Lancashire)

BLACKSTONE. Highly carbonaceous shale. (North Staffordshire)

BLAES or BLAIZE. A hard-bedded joint-free sandstone, also a clay with balls of ironstone (Scotland)

BOARD-WAY’S COURSE. Planes of cleavage in coal. (Northumbria)

BRASS or BRAZZIL. Iron pyrites in coal. Generally lenticular patches or small veins.

BRAT. A thin bed or band of coal mixed with lime and iron pyrites. (Northumbria)

BRUSH. A rich brown haematite iron ore. (Forest of Dean)

BULLIONS. Nodules of clay ironstone, iron pyrites or shales which generally enclose a fossil. (Lancashire)

BUMP. A very sudden breaking of the strata, accompanied by a loud report or bumping noise heard in the mine. [mining induced earthquake]

BURR or CANK. Very compact siliceous-ferruginous sandstone.

CAKING COAL. Bituminous coal, requiring much poking on the fire.

CALLIARD or GALLIARD. A hard, smooth, flinty grit-stone. (Northumbria)

CANNEL. A coal rich in hydrogen, produces much gas, and has a hard, dense structure. From Canwyl, meaning a candle, from the readiness with which it lights and gives off a steady flame

CASH. A soft shale (Scotland)

CATHEADS or CHERKERS. Nodular or ball ironstone. (Northumbria / Forest of Dean)

CHEESES. Clay ironstone in cheese-shaped nodules. (Derbyshire)

CHEMIST’S COAL. An ancient term given to a particular kind of hard splint coal which used to be carried by women in their shifts or chemises out of the mines. The word chemise became changed into chemists. (Scotland)

CHERRY COAL. A soft, velvet-black, bright resinous coal.

CHITTER. A seam of coal overlying another one at a short distance. (Lancashire)

CLEAT. Natural jointing of coal seams, with generally a north / south direction, irrespective of dip or strike.

CLIFF or CLIFT. Shale which is laminated, splitting easily along the planes of deposition. (South Wales)

CLOD. Indurated clay. (Derbyshire, Leicestershire)

CLOD-TOPS. Clayey beds overlying seams of coal. (Forest of Dean)

CLUNCH. Hard earthy fireclay. (Midlands)

CORNERS. Bands of clay ironstone. (South Wales)

CRACKS. Vertical planes of cleavage in coal, running at right angles to backs. (Scotland)

CREESHY [GREASY] BLEAS. Nodules of bituminous shale which fall out when the coal is worked away from beneath them. (Scotland)

CROW-STONE or GANNISTER. A very hard and compact, extremely siliceous fire-clay, largely made use of for lining the interiors of steel furnaces. (Derbyshire, Yorkshire)

CROZZLE. Contorted non-carbonaceous shale [c.f. Hussle (carbonaceous)] (North Staffordshire)

CRUST. Whitish fine sandstone. (Shropshire)

CULM. Inferior anthracite. (South Wales)

CURL-STONE. Ironstone exhibiting cone-in-cone formation. (Shropshire)

DANT or DANTY. Disintegrated coal. (Northumbria)

DAUGH. Underclay (Scotland)

DELF. A vein, seam, mine, or bed of coal or ironstone. (Forest of Dean, Lancashire)

DILSH. Inferior culm in the shape of a thin stratum. (South Wales)

DIET BED or BAND. A thin stratum of soft earthy refuse interbedded with coal seams.

DUMB FAULT. Coal wash-out.

DUNS. Argillaceous shale. (Gloustershire)

FAT COALS. Coals containing volatile oily matter.

FIRE-CLAY. Any clay that will withstand a great heat without vitrifying. They contain from 60 to 95% silica, and 2 to 30% alumina. Lime or alkalies which act as a flux, being entirely absent.

FLAG. A bed of hard marl stone overlying the rock head in salt mines. (Cheshire)

FLAIKES. Shaly or fissile sandstone. (Scotland)

FLAMPER. Clay ironstone in beds or seams. (Derbyshire)

GANNISTER. A very hard and compact, extremely siliceous fire-clay, being the floor of some of the lower coal seams of the Midland coalfield. It is often crowded with the fossil Stigmaria, and is largely made use of for lining the interiors of steel furnaces.

GRIST. A black coaly stratum indicating a probable vein of coal not far off. (South Wales)

GRIZZLE. Inferior coal with an admixture of specks and patches of iron pyrites, and often sooty.

HARDS. Coals of a hard and close-grained character. (Midlands)

HAZLE. A tough mixture of sandstone and shale. (Northumbria)

HEUGHS or HEUCHS. Ancient term for coal seams or coal workings. (Scotland)

HORSE-BEANS. A stratum of a granular structure immediately overlying the rock salt beds, in which the rock-head brine runs. (Cheshire)

HUGGER. A Back or Cleat. (Northumbria)

HUSSLE. Contorted carbonaceous shale [c.f. Crozzle (non-carbonaceous)] (North Staffordshire)

LAM or LAMB. A kind of fire-clay. (Warwickshire)

LAMB-SKIN. Culm. (South Wales)

LEA-STONE. Laminated sandstone. (Lancashire)

LEATHER-BED (Midlands). A tough leather-like clayey substance running in a fault slip, composed of the ground-up and squeezed fractured ends of the coal measures. Seldom more than a few inches in thickness. (Midlands)

LINING. Clay Ironstone in beds or bands. (Derbyshire)

LOAM or MALM (Somerset). Any mixture of sand and clay which is neither distinctly sandy nor clayey.

METAL STONE. Sandstone and shale mixed. (Northumbria)

NANNIES. Natural joints, cracks, in the coal measures. (Yorkshire)

NEST-WEISE. Iron ore which occurs in pockets (Forest of Dean)

PENNYSTONES. Bands of clay ironstone.

POUNDSTONE. A kind of underday. (Shropshire)

POUNSON. Dense soft clay underlying coal beds. (North Wales)

POXON ROCK. A red gravelly stratum (Permian ?) overlying coal measures. (Leicestershire)

PROUD COAL Coal which naturally splits off in flakes or slabs (Scotland)

PUDDING ROCK. Conglomerate or breccia. (Yorkshire)

QUAR or CLIFF QUAR. A kind of Bind (Forest of Dean)

QUOICENECK. Greyish black clay with shining surfaces, and streaked. (Shropshire)

RATTLE-JACK. Carbonaceous shale (Midlands)

RATTLERS. Cannel coal. (Yorkshire)

REED. Cleat.

SAGGER or SEGGER. A kind of fireclay.

SCARRS. Thin laminae of iron pyrites or spar in coal. (Northumbria)

SCRIN. Ironstone in irregular-shaped nodules. (Derbyshire)

SCRONGE. The loosened or broken strata overlying and produced by workings underneath. (South Wales)

SCUD. Very thin layers of soft matter, such as clay or sooty coal or iron pyrites embedded in coal seams. (Leicestershire)

SEAT EARTH. Generally a kind of hard fireclay forming the floor. (Yorkshire)

SHAGGY METAL. Horse Beans. (Cheshire)

SHED. A very thin layer of coal.

SKERRIES. Greenish-white micaceous sandstone. (Worstershire)

SKERRYSTONE. Hard, thin-bedded sandstone. (Midlands)

SLOOM. A softish earthy clay or shale often underlying a bed of coal. (Midlands)

SLUM, SLUMS, SLUMBS. A blackish, slippery, indurated clay (North Staffordshire) or a soft clayey or shaley bed of coal.

SMOOTHS. Planes of cleavage more or less vertical. (South Wales)

SOAPSTONE. A variety of fireclay, sometimes applied to Bind. (Yorkshire, North Wales)

SODS. Clay beneath coal seams. (Leicestershire)

SPAVIN. Clunch, or ordinary bottom or underclay. (Yorkshire)

SPIRES. Coal of a hard, dull, slaty nature, and difficult to break up. (Leicestershire)

SPLINT or SPLENT. A laminated, coarse, inferior, dull-looking, hard coal, producing much white ash. (Scotland)

STERIL COAL. Black shale or clay on top of a coal seam.

STINKING COAL. Sulphur-rich coal.

THREAD. Cleat (Midlands)

UNDEREARTH. A hard bastard fireclay forming the floor of a seam of coal. (Forest of Dean)

VEISES. Joints in coal strata (Scotland)

WEELDBONS. Ancient ironstone workings. (Forest of Dean)

Before 'Intelligent Design' was Intelligent Design

Before I start this post I think I need to point out that I don’t believe in ‘Intelligent Design’ creationism. I use the word ‘believe’ purposely since ‘Intelligent [sic] Design’ is a faith concept rather than a scientific theory or hypothesis. You might have noticed from my blog sidebar that I am without belief in any deity of any persuasion. However, I do have a strong interest in historical geology and this has got me involved in a project which involves going back to a time where creationism and geology were strongly intertwined in the UK, indeed to the time of publication of the Darwin’s “Origin of Species”. I’m purely involved in this project from a position of scientific interest and understanding in historical geology in context, not through any belief in the underlying theology.

In Staffordshire, in the English Midlands, lies Biddulph Grange. The Grange was home to James Bateman (1811–1897), a noted botanist who worked particularly on orchids and he created wonderful gardens in the grounds, on the theme of a world tour, between 1841 and 1868. The Grange is now owned by the National Trust and the gardens are open to the public.

Bateman also designed a geological galley to connect the Grange with the gardens. It’s arrangement is unique and it is a marvellous example of intelligent design [in its purest sense].

Bateman\'s geological gallery at Biddulph Grange
Bateman's geological gallery at Biddulph Grange

The gallery’s unique layout, trying to reconcile known British geology with the creation myth is best described in a contemporary report by Edward Kemp, writing in The Gardener’s Chronicle in 1862

‘The geological gallery, which is upwards of 100 feet long, is lined with stone and lighted from the roof … Advancing into the gallery, it will be found treated in a way that is quite unique, and is singularly illustrative of the great geological facts of the globe. On the one side, at about three feet from the ground, a series of specimens, showing the earth’s formation, and exhibiting all the various strata in their natural succession, are let into the wall, in a layer about eighteen inches wide; and above this are arranged the animal and vegetable fossils that the respective strata yield … The whole is distributed into ‘days’ supposed to correspond with the six (so called) ‘days’ of the Mosaic cosmogony, beginning with the granites, and passing into the slates, the limestones, the old red sandstones, the coal formations, etc, with such animal and vegetable remains as occur in each. On the other side of the gallery the walls are covered with geological maps and sections, and between a set of seats provided for the accommodation of those who wish to make the matter a study, is a series of tables, on which various remarkable geological specimens are arranged; thus rendering the general effect artistic as well as instructive.’

The gallery is now sadly in a poor state of repair, the Grange was converted into a hospital in the 1930s and the gallery was used a a workshop. Many of the rock and fossil specimens are now missing, either taken or simply crumbled away to dust. Day III (in the image) is probably the most complete. The strip of rock layers are of Upper Carboniferous sandstones and coals (Bateman owned a number of local coal mines), above which were a number of plant fossils from the corresponding strata. This in turn corresponds to Day III on which ‘God created grass and trees’ (we’ll ignore the fact for the moment that ‘grasses’ should be much later in the sequence geologically). Day V is similarly arranged with Jurassic strata and Ichthyosaur fossils corresponding to ‘God creating whales’.

The strata strip covers known British geological history beginning with Precambrian granites (as jumbled blocks) before Day I, moving to layered (ordered) Cambrian strata on Day I. The strata progress through geological time with at the other end of the gallery Lower Eocene ‘Hertfordshire Puddingstone‘.

Here the gallery tantalisingly stops. The end of Day VI is truncated by the building of a hospital ward (now demolished) in the 1930s; the slot for a hominid skull is clearly cut in half. There are no contemporary descriptions of what lay beyond Day VI. It could have been a display of Bateman’s orchids which he believed could only have been created after God created Man because until then there would have been no-one to enjoy them. Alternatively there could just have been a door to the garden – the Garden of Eden. There are also allusions to the ‘Second Coming’ in the garden as Bateman refused to plant any hybrids as these impure creations of man would be swept away during it.

The gallery is pretty much contemporaneous with “The Origin of Species”. Darwin’s work was published in 1859 and, whilst the precise date of the gallery in unknown, its first description (above) is in 1862. Bateman knew Darwin, he even sent him some orchids to work on, but whether the gallery was built as a direct riposte to Darwin or simply Bateman reconciling his evangelical Christianity with known British geology is unknown, but it truly is an intelligent design.

The National Trust acquired the gallery in 2002 and hopes to begin the restoration of the gallery in 2009 to coincide with the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Trying to work out what rocks and fossils are missing and trying to recreate as faithfully as possible Bateman’s extraordinary gallery is going to be a fascinating project.

Note that although the gardens are open to the public, the gallery isn’t yet. There will be an opportunity to visit it in September when an open weekend will be held. Details will appear on the National Trust’s website.