Geikie's science in the cemetery
Geikie's science in the cemetery (in Aspects of the life and works of Archibald Geikie, J. Betterton (editor), J. Craig (editor), J. R. Mendum (editor), R. Neller (editor) and J. Tanner (editor))
Special Publication - Geological Society of London (May 2018) 480 (1): 213-222
Natural stone is an important material used for buildings, walls and monuments. However, when used outdoors, it is subject to damage by the effects of weathering. Inspired by the experiments carried out by Friedrich Pfaff, a German geologist and professor of mineralogy at the University of Erlangen, Germany, in the 1870s, Archibald Geikie became interested in the subject of rock weathering and came up with the idea of using gravestones as a means of monitoring weathering in stone used for building. This work, apparently carried out in cemeteries in Edinburgh as a sideline to his normal fieldwork activities, was described in 1880 in a communication read to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It represents the first comprehensive scientific study of rock weathering published in English, and the methodology Geikie developed for his study formed the basis for modern studies of rock weathering using gravestones.