The history of the earth and natural science was studied since times unknown, but the need for a geological map was felt when we wanted to predict the possible locations of the most valuable metals and minerals to be found on the earth’s crust. A German mining engineer named Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) wrote a book named “De re Metallica” in the year 1556, and he dedicated a chapter in the book to the valuable rocks found on the earth’s crust. He correlated the description with various hand-drawn figures with directions and thicknesses of various formations in the drawing.
The idea of a real map was born in the 18th century British Kingdom by the naturalist Martin Lister. His idea was to represent the distribution of different soil types of the British landscape on a topographic map. “The Soil might either be colored, by a variety of Lines or Etchings; but the great care must be, very exactly to note upon the Map, where such and such Soils are bounded…Now if it were noted, how far these extended, and the limits of each Soil appeared on a Map, something more might be comprehended from the whole, and from every part, then I can possibly foresee, which would make such labor very well worth the pains.” However, he could not release a map based on his idea.
The next important step was taken in Italy by a military engineer named Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsili. He traveled to a part of Europe to create topographic maps for military use. He also observed and incorporated the landscapes, types of rocks, and other details with those maps. In the year 1726, he published his first map of the mining districts in Hungary.
With time the geological maps were evolved through the hands of Jean-Étienne Guettard who was famous for his detailed mineralogical and volcanological maps. An anonymous cartographer of the German island Heligoland drew the first geological map and he added the boundaries between four different rock types Kreide (chalk), Muschelkalkstein (limestone), Bunter Sandstein (sandstone), and Kohle (coal beds). The map depicts the boundaries of the various geological formations even below the sea. As the author, also the intended use of this map is unknown. Geologist David. R. Oldroyd speculates that the map maybe could be used as an aid to navigation, as sailors could determine their position by evaluating the rocks and sediments dredged from the seafloor.
In the year 1816, William ‘Strata’ Smith published a map as “A delineation of the strata of England and Wales, with a part of Scotland; exhibiting collieries and mines the marshes and fenlands originally overflowed by the sea, and the varieties of soil according to the variations in the substrata, illustrated by the most descriptive names”. The map identified different rock types, but Smith classified the rocks according to their age and the way they were deposited in layers. William Smith was a surveyor and an engineer by profession His works were never acknowledged during his time. They were only acknowledged after his demise and he was given the title “The Father of English Geology”. The Geological Society says of 400 copies that were possibly produced, only 150 remain today.
Happy Geologist Day to all my fellow geologists.