William Smith, English geologist

William Smith, English geologist

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Caption: William Smith (1769-1839), English geologist. Smith was born at Churchill, Oxfordshire, the son of a blacksmith. Although he had little formal education, in 1787 he found work as a surveyor's assistant. During early work in coal pits in Somerset, Smith observed that various strata in the rocks were associated with particular fossils. He devised the principle of faunal succession, and during later years working for canal companies around the country tested his ideas. In 1799 Smith produced a geological map of the area around Bath, using colours to represent the types of rocks outcropping at the surface. In 1815 he published his first geological map of Britain. Painstakingly engraved and hand coloured, it was soon plagiarised and Smith became bankrupt. He served time in a debtor's prison. By 1831 he was finally recognised as the creator of one of the most important maps ever drawn.

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Keywords: 1700s, 1800s, 18th, 19th century, british, cartographer, english, engraving, first, geological map, geologist, geology, map that changed the world, mineralogist, portrait, survyor, vertical, william smith

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