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NACIS 2016 Presentation
John Lindemann, Consulting Geologist
In 1809 William Maclure - one of the first American geologists - published what is arguably the first geologic map of the United States. Over the next three decades this map, little changed with the exception of its topographic base, was republished in four iterations. To the modern earth science community these maps are largely unknown. What caused these seemingly pioneer maps to slip into near obscurity?
Father of American Geology – Benjamin Silliman, Yale College – 1844 Maps – Six iterations – maps bound in publications – folded hand coloured – no substantial revision Maclure born 1763 – Ayr Scotland 1778 Maclure ends business career
Map is compilation
Samuel Lewis base – N&S borders missing – no mention of geology nor Maclure 1796 Abraham Bradley – A Map of the United states, Exhibiting Post Roads 7 Distances Wernerian Units Map in reality is a physiographic map
1803 Volney base – no geologic legend Inclusion of “Old Red Sandstone” All in French
John Melish base Monograph – tracing paper stock
Maclure thought In broad, general terms in addressing a problem that was understandable only in detail and in specifics. Maclure maps are artifacts attesting to the beginnings of American geology. Werner/Maclure worldview failed to withstand the scrutiny of time and the reality of the outcrop.
The First Geologic Maps of the U.S.
Colorado Springs, CO
J. W. Lindemann, CPG, FGSA
“The foregoing observations are the result of many
former excursions in the United States, and a knowledge
lately acquired by crossing the dividing line of the principal
formations 15 to 20 different places, from the Hudson to
Flint river; as well as from the information of intelligent
men, whose situation and experience, make the nature of
the place near which they live familiar to them; nor has the
information that could be acquired from specimens, when
the locality was accurately marked, been neglected, nor
the remarks of judicious travelers.”
- Maclure, 1809, p. 426
“ Should this hasty and
imperfect sketch call forth
the attention of those
possessed of more talents
and industry for the accurate
investigation of this
interesting subject, the views
of the author will be fully
Maclure, 1809, p.428
John W. Lindemann