The geological travels of Charles Lyell, Charlotte Murchison and Roderick Impey Murchison in France and northern Italy (1828)
M. Kölbl-Ebert, 2007. "The geological travels of Charles Lyell, Charlotte Murchison and Roderick Impey Murchison in France and northern Italy (1828)", Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel, P. N. Wyse Jackson
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In 1828, Charles Lyell (1797–1875), Charlotte Murchison (1788–1869) and her husband Roderick Impey Murchison (1792–1871) embarked on a long journey around Europe. The party left Paris in May 1828, travelled through the Massif Central and continued southwards. The geological programme was dedicated to stratigraphical and geomorphological observations, but sightseeing was not neglected. Published papers by Lyell and Roderick Murchison report their scientific results, but it is the unpublished journals, notebooks and letters, which illuminated their research programmes, task management and daily routine. There was an effective division of labour, which increased the scientific productivity of the trio. Lyell and Roderick Murchison decided about routes and research topics and travelled long distances on foot taking stratigraphical sections and keeping track of correlations of structures, whereas it was Charlotte Murchison's task to do much of the time-consuming fossil-hunting, sketching of landscapes and geological structures and—speaking French fluently—to visit local experts, whose expertise might add to the success of the journey. Also, the different initial expectations and working styles of Charles Lyell and Roderick Murchison become evident.
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In the last four centuries geologists have traversed the globe, searching for economically important materials or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Geologists have often been at the vanguard of scientific exploration.
The microscopist Robert Hooke explored the Isle of Wight, and Charles Darwin the Cape Verde islands and parts of South America. The volcanic wonders of Italy and central France attracted native and foreign visitors including Lyell and Murchison. The Tyrrell brothers faced great hardship in northern Canada, as did the actor and mineralogist Charles Lewis Giesecke in Greenland. The development of Sydney, Australia depended on finding limestone for building. French geologists relied on camels in the Sahara, and Grenville Cole trusted his tricycle to carry him across Europe.
Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel focuses on the complexities of geological exploration and will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, historians of science and to the general reader interested in science.