Reminder – Final Project Groups

Blog Post 2. Clarke.

Smith was an avid geologist and created the Principle of Faunal Succession. This map had a functional purpose in that it effectively documented the predictability of each geologic layer in England and that it fulfilled other uses outside of Smith’s intended scope. Smith was very ambitious for his time period. Smith must have gone through great lengths to compile his research into one image that would later be analyzed by a history class (almost 200 years later). He noted that throughout various periods of the Earth’s history, there were unique fossils and formations found in each layer. Smith’s map is one of the first times that past geology was effectively mapped. Not only this, but it also disproved many of the cultural and religious viewpoints of this time period. At this time, many people in England believed the Earth was only a few thousand years old. Smith’s findings questioned the authority of the Church. At it’s most basic level, this map shows change over time and how important science is to understanding the Earth’s history.

This image provides an example of Smith’s map making style. Each color represents a different geologic era. Modern maps that depict similar information look almost identical to Smith’s findings.

The style of map that Smith created is known as a thematic map. Rock layers and patterns classify this thematic map as geological. Smith implemented various colors in his map that each represent unique layers and landscape patterns. That being said, one could not use this map to travel across England because it did not represent modern terrain. Rather, it showed various layers throughout hundred of thousands of years. A key, well what is left of it, is present to show the meaning behind the layers and graphics depicted. I find it incredible  how accurate Smith’s findings were. His data is very similar to that found using modern technological advances. This map provides a unique approach to future discoveries and scientific findings. In a sense, it is quite useful to future geologic findings that would’ve followed Smith’s time.

I found this post online and thought that it best summarizes everything stated above. Smith’s knowledge was ahead of his time and it’s very interesting how vital his findings were to future scientific research.


Blog Post 2


William Smith’s magnum opus is a thematic map from 1815 that details the geological features of England and Wales. The colors of Smith’s map add to its quality but I’m not sure if I understand the goals they further (ie. if there was a specific reason behind his color choices).

(part of Smith’s 1820 map A New Geological Map of England and Wales)

As Winchester puts it, the key difference that sets Smith’s work apart from the rest is the fact that he made such an accurate map for such a large space without help from others.

(1815, Smith’s Geological Map of England and Wales and Part of Scotland)

(Although I agree with Winchester that Smith’s accomplishment was very impressive, I wonder whether or not Winchester’s apparent bias in favor of Smith that caused him to leave out important details about Smith’s life. For example, in painting his picture of Smith as a poor man who was jailed instead of recognized for his work, Winchester leaves out the fact that Smith had been jailed for his own poor skills with finances, at least according to the piece by Scott.) Regardless, Smith’s work is incredibly impressive, especially considering the resources a man of his class would have had in the early 1800s. I don’t think I am part of the intended audience for this map, but I would guess that it does serve a purpose for many different groups (for example, farmers who might want a better picture of the surrounding landscape). Additionally, I think that the accuracy of Smith’s map has given it a timeless quality, so that one could still find practical applications for it today. The amount of time and effort Smith dedicated to this project is probably more than I can imagine, but I think his final product is well worth it.



Blog Post 2 – Burlingham

William Smith added another layer of complexity to the field of Cartography by depicting the various strata of England. His discovery of the Principle of Faunal Succession allowed him to categorize different fossils to their distinct layer of rock strata. With recognition of each layer of strata it allowed geologists to further explore the history of Earth. Smith created a geologic map of England that, “maps what lay below it [surface], translating three dimensions into two,” (Scott 2).

The colors of this map are a very effective as they distinguish each layer rock strata, and perhaps even the color of the rock. This map depicts change overtime via the different rock strata. Each one is specific to a certain time period, and thus we are able to see how these patterns changed over the years and trace fossils back to their time period. It also exhibits the patterns to which new levels of strata form. This was particularly useful as he discovered the rock patterns that led him to find coal. This map silences the particular climate within each period, though perhaps this became known after Smith’s lifetime. What I found interesting is that the cross section does not disclose where the coal can be found. Smith commissioned the making of this map by himself, and so I am curious if he left this information out on purpose. Was this a power move to sell this map to specific mining companies and disclose the information after?

Even further, this map may have been created to challenge the authority of the church, “perhaps geology could be the key for those who, in the enlightened, wondering spirit of the times, were at least beginning to tap their fingertips on the stout door of received belief,” (Winchester 25-26). During this time there was a lot of unrest surrounding the Church, and many people tried to challenge this with science. Smith’s works were funded by himself, which begs the question of what these maps would look like had they been commissioned by the state.

Leuty Weekly Blog Post – Smith Map

William Smith’s geological maps of England address an issue central to cartographers in the pursuit of mapping: it, on a two-dimensional framework, illustrates both change over space and time. Smith overcame tremendous odds to publish his pivotal geological map, coming from a modest background in an era where religious fundamentalism dominated the subject on earth’s true age. However, serendipitous circumstances loomed equally large in the creation of geology’s first artifact. England’s desire to transport coal and iron via canals provided a Smith a means of earning a living and surveying rock strata. Also, a growing trend of fossil collection captured the attention of intellectuals as both scientific curiosities and symbols of status. Ultimately, through analysis of fossils meticulously pulled apart from rock layers, Smith was able to develop the theory of faunal succession and discover a way to accurately discern unique strata layers. The product of this early geological science was the creation of the Geological Map of England and Wales and Part of Scotland, published in 1815. The subsequent developments in the field of geology as well as the developments of evolutionary theory speak to the power and influence of mapping as presented by Smith and his contemporaries.

Again, geological maps present a unique solution to the cartographic challenge of presenting change over time. Inspired by the color schemes of agricultural maps, Smith ingeniously employed color representations of distinct rock layers to show where one formation gave way to the next. Presumably, geologists could use color schemes to show changes in distinct layers vertically as well as horizontally through space. Vertical representations of rock layers mapped onto a landscape tell a story of the history of earth as they show a composition of earth’s crust. In this light, geological maps take on the challenge of topographical mapping, only focusing on earth’s unique underground formations. I found it interesting how similar Smith’s 1820 geological map resembled the modern topographical base-layer of the UK.

Southeastern peninsula along portion along British coast with topographical base layer (right) in comparison to Smith’s 1820 map (left)
Portion of Britain’s eastern coast

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the main geological formations of a region influenced its topography. I was impressed not only with the similarities between Smith’s 1820 map and the topography of the same region, but also his ability to use geological formations create a map, by himself, that so closely resembled the detailed coastal outlines of today’s maps.

Blog #3

The map for this week’s post was created by William Smith with the help of two others. The purpose was to map out all of the different types of strata found in “The vicinity of Bath”. The tree men listed all of the types of strata in a chart and separated each kind by it’s thickness, location within streams, it’s types of fossils, color,  and a few other descriptive characteristics. The number of strata layers came to a grand total of 23. It is my understanding that Smith and Co. wanted to break each layer of strata into their own respective time periods and give readers an understanding of why certain things were found in each layer. This is a thematic map with the theme being the geology of the area.

A really cool thing about this map is that it led to a discovery. Thanks to the information compiled by Smith, geologists today are able to recognize the fossil shift as the boundary between the Carboniferous Period and the Permian period. I think that the purpose of this map was to compile data for research and to present it in a way that it could be used for discovery. Another purpose for Smith was to find evidence to support his idea that rock layers across England occurred in a predictable pattern (faunal succession). This map was affective because it was able to accomplish all of those things. Another cool thing about this map is that it was effective for more purposes that Smith’s. After he passed, his nephew went on the use his fossil data to name major eras in the geologic time scale.