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The first geological map; an Italian legacy

Marco Romano, Richard L. Cifelli and Gian Battista Vai
The first geological map; an Italian legacy
Italian Journal of Geosciences (June 2016) 135 (2): 261-267


Although the popular map by William Smith "A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with Part of Scotland" is properly celebrated as the first complete geological map of an entire country, the basic principles used by the famous English canal surveyor were epistemologically founded and utilized by the Italian Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsili about a century earlier. Marsili, "uomo d'arme e scienza" ("man of army and science"), represents a vitally important pioneer in the fields of geography, cartography, and oceanography, with farther-ranging knowledge that included, for example, the field of archaeological survey. With his geologic map of the Cesenate sulphur mines Marsili was the first geologist to make the quantum leap from simple mineralogical maps - which report the location and access of mines on a topographic background - to a proto-geological map, wherein the areas represented by corresponding lithostratigraphic units are delimited. If Smith's map is rightly regarded as an ambitious work for the areal extent covered, Marsili's "Treatise on the Structure of the Earthy Globe" (lamentably unfinished) was by far more ambitious. The 200 sheets that come down to us include about 50 pen drawings and more than 35 water-colored plates. These clearly show how the work of Marsili took radical departure from the classic systems or "Theories of the Earth" espoused by British contemporaries such as Burnet and Woodward: in the Italian scientist we find the first arguments on the mountain roots and the observations that, much later, led to the principle of isostasy. In the fields of stratigraphy, regional geology, oceanography, and geological mapping, Marsili anticipated scholarly thought by at least a century.

ISSN: 2038-1719
EISSN: 2038-1727
Serial Title: Italian Journal of Geosciences
Serial Volume: 135
Serial Issue: 2
Title: The first geological map; an Italian legacy
Affiliation: Sapienza Universita di Roma, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Rome, Italy
Pages: 261-267
Published: 201606
Text Language: English
Publisher: Societa Geologica Italiana, Rome, Italy
References: 42
Accession Number: 2016-062841
Categories: Geologic maps
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
N36°30'00" - N47°30'00", E06°30'00" - E19°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Sam Noble Museum, USA, United StatesUniversita di Bologna, ITA, Italy
Country of Publication: Italy
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Societa Geologica Italiana. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201630
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