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William Buckland: Ideal Section of a Portion of the Earth's Crust

Map: WLD4599
Cartographer: William Buckland
Title: Ideal Section of a Portion of the Earth's Crust
Date: 1836
Published: London
Width: 46 inches / 117 cm
Height: 8 inches / 21 cm
Map ref: WLD4599
This fascinating and beautifully illustrated cross-section of the Earth's crust provides an idealised view of the many geological strata found across Europe. It was compiled by two eminent Victorian geologists, Rev. William Buckland and Thomas Webster. The diagram was drawn by Webster and features illustrations of fossils collected and chosen by Buckland. This is one of the only such diagrams to include illustrations of the fossils to be found in each rock type, making it a particularly desirable example.

Rev. William Buckland was one of the foremost geologists and palaeontologists of the Victorian Era. He produced the first written account of a fossilized dinosaur, working closely with the famous fossil hunter, Mary Anning, and in collaboration with his wife, Mary Buckland. William Buckland was also a chief proponent of glaciation as the primary method by which the British landscape had been formed, and wrote a seminal paper on a cave of hyena skeletons in Yorkshire, arguing that the hyena bones and those of various prey animals were not deposited in the cave by the Biblical flood, as others had argued, but rather that the hyenas had lived in the cave in prehistoric times. Furthermor, he was the first to correctly identify fossilized faeces, coining the term 'coprolite'.

In 1836, after five years of work, Buckland published his best known work, Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural Theology. It was an attempt to reconcile the Biblical story of creation with contemporary discoveries about the true age of the Earth. Buckland posited that the Biblical story of a 7-day creation period could still be true, but that after the initial Creation, there may have been a long gap with a succession of smaller creation events intended to prepare the Earth for mankind. This compromise was known as 'Gap Creationism' and allowed for a harmonious merging of religious belief with scientific facts. Buckland's geological panorama was published to accompany his treatise.

Thomas Webster, the illustrator of this diagram, was another celebrated figure in Victorian geological circles. He was a Scottish geologist whose talents for water-colour painting and sketching made him the perfect illustrator of geological diagrams. He was a professor of Geology at University College London, and served as secretary and curator to the Geological Society of London. He also assisted with editing and illustrating the Transactions of the Geological Society.

Original hand-colour. (SL) [WLD4599]