If William Smith had lived in the 20th century, he might well have been a great petroleum geologist. Even in his time, at the turn of the 18th century, it was needs, similar to those of the present for heat, power and transportation that led him, through the surveying of coal mines and canals, into a geological career, and that made him one of the great contributors to the fundamentals of the petroleum geology which was to come only long after his time. Let us consider then, in what manner petroleum may have repaid, in part, the debt which it owes to William Smith and to other early pioneers in stratigraphy and related fields of geology.
In the midst of our aggressive search for new geological facts and our enthusiastic attempts at new geological hypotheses, it is perhaps well to step aside for a moment to appraise and evaluate some of the factors and influences which have helped to bring us to where we are in geology today. I am, therefore, pleased that the Council of the Geological Society has seen fit to encourage me in presenting, not the usual story of new research results, but rather an appreciation of the contributions to geology which have grown out of the quest for a particular and unique mineral resource.
We are living today in a brief and fleeting period of world history which may well be known as the Petroleum Age. We have had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the