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Abstract

During the decade commencing in the mid-1850s there was a paradigm shift in Britain from the hypothesis of glacial submergence in association with sediment-laden icebergs to one of terrestrial glaciation as the explanation of lowland ‘Drift’ terrain. During this period, as a rising junior Geological Survey of Great Britain geologist, Archibald Geikie was in the vanguard of this crusade. His field mapping of the drift-covered central valley area of Scotland identified sediments and bedrock surfaces which he could not adequately explain by a submergence mechanism. His Survey line manager was ‘Local Director’ A. C. Ramsay (also spelt Ramsey), the leading British glacial geologist of his time. Ramsay supported the new hypothesis, but it was opposed by Sir Roderick Murchison the Survey Director. Eventually, in 1865, Geikie gained first-hand experience of current glacial processes in Arctic Norway during an expedition which he organized and led. His companions were Survey colleagues, his brother James Geikie and William Whitaker. They jointly concluded that land-ice glaciation held the key to interpreting the ‘Drift’. All three were to gain prominence in British geology but only James became an internationally recognized ice-age geologist.

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