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Lucas Barrett—A biography1

By
Lawrence J. Chubb
Lawrence J. Chubb
Deceased; formerly Geological Survey of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica
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Published:
April 01, 2010

ABSTRACT (S.K. Donovan)

Lucas Barrett (1837–1862) was a highly respected young naturalist when appointed as director of the first Geological Survey of Jamaica in 1859. His previous scientific experiences were varied, including dredging for marine benthos with Robert M'Andrew (1802–1873) and curator of the Woodwardian Museum, Cambridge, as assistant to the Reverend Adam Sedgwick (1785–1873). Although his practical abilities included producing a geological map of Cambridgeshire, he had hitherto not worked as part of a geological survey and was not familiar with Caribbean conditions. In contrast, his assistant in Jamaica, James Gay Sawkins (1806–1878), had been the assistant geologist in the survey of Trinidad, but lacked Barrett's abilities, particularly as a biostratigrapher. Sawkins appears to have resented being subordinate to a younger and less experienced man. The survey started in eastern Jamaica, where Barrett soon recognized Cretaceous fossils in rocks that were mapped as Paleozoic by De la Beche on lithological evidence. Despite internal (Sawkins) and external pressures (mainly disgruntled mine owners), the survey continued and Barrett instigated a program of dredging to facilitate dating of Cenozoic rocks using Lyellian statistics. In 1862, Barrett was a commissioner for Jamaica at the International Exhibition in London. He returned to Jamaica with a diving dress. He was using this apparatus when he died on 19 December 1862, most probably due to a pulmonary air embolism (the “bends”). The survey was completed with Sawkins as the new director.

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GSA Memoirs

Jamaican Rock Stars, 1823–1971: The Geologists Who Explored Jamaica

Stephen K. Donovan
Stephen K. Donovan
Department of Geology Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Naturalis, Leiden, The Netherlands
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Lawrence J. Chubb
Lawrence J. Chubb
Contributors
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John B. Williams
John B. Williams
Contributors
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Geological Society of America
Volume
205
ISBN print:
9780813712055
Publication date:
April 01, 2010

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