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[merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

some time ago, the Queen conferred on him the honour of THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 1893.

knighthood. Now it is our duty to note the chief features of his activity, and to state what personal part Sir Archi.

bald Geikie has played in the recent progress of science. SCIENTIFIC WORTHIES.

It is scarcely necessary to say that his geological achieve

ments are too important to be conveniently reviewed in a XXVIII.-SIR ARCHIBALD GEIKIE.

few lines. Nevertheless we shall try to give a general ME MONTHS ago the British Association for the idea of the prominent results to which his name must be

Advancement of Science was holding its annual attached. ing at Edinburgh under the presidency of Sir Archi | Early appointed, as he was, as an officer of Scotland's Geikie, F.R.S., Director-General of the Geological Survey, he had, from the beginning, to deal with the ?y of the United Kingdom.

most puzzling problems involved in the stratigraphy of may well be said that a more appropriate choice the Highlands. The case was a very difficult one, and

hardly have been made by the Council of the gave rise to much controversy between Sir Roderick ed Association. Not only is Sir Archibald a Murchison and many other geologists, among whom it will ugh Scot, born and educated in Scotland, where be sufficient to quote the respected name of Nicol. As in 6led for many years the most important duties as the Highlands gneisses and ordinary crystalline schists mber of the geological staff, and later as a professor were seen resting, with apparent conformity, on Silurian e University of Edinburgh, but, having long been strata, it had been admitted by Murchison that the red in the supervision of the Scottish Survey, he sequence was a normal one. Therefore the crystalline ed with his own hand many hundreds of square schists had to be regarded, in spite of their Archæan of country, and through the entire scenery of Scot- appearance, as metamorphosed Silurian deposits. Such there is not a single point with the peculiarities of an assumption had a considerable bearing on other i he did not make himself thoroughly familiar. His geological problems, as it rendered highly probable the ledge of the ground is not at all restricted to geo- | theory that the so-called primitive gneisses were altered I relations. In Sir Archibald the qualities of the sediments, and had nothing to do with the early crust of gist are combined with those of the enthusiastic | the molten globe. of landscape, and his able pencil excels in drawing That Sir Archibald should at first have taken his ial sketches in which the outlines, peculiar shades, Director's side is not at all surprising. But he was never one might say, the general spirit of the scenery are quite satisfied ; and his love of truih led him, as soon as with the most striking accuracy. Obviously, there he was in a position to do so, to undertake a detailed rehe was the right man to be placed at the head of the view of the facts. Since the discovery of Silurian fossils burgh meeting, which many prominent foreign in. in the rocks of N.W. Sutherland, it had been recogzators attended in the hope of afterwards travelling, nized that the key to the structure of the Scottish Highas tourists and as men of science, through the most | lands was to be searched for in that region. Accordingly, sting fields of the Highlands. Nobody could have in the years 1883 and 1884, MM. Peach and Horne were better fitted to introduce them to the country. When entrusted with a careful study of the Durness and Eriboll ig Sir Archibald in the chair at Edinburgh, the districts. They were very far from being directed to h Association not only did due justice to one of the obtain means of justifying the old survey. “ It was a distinguished sons of “ modern Athens," it also special injunction to the officers" (we quote Geikie's own the best course to secure from foreign guests the words) “to divest themselves of any prepossession in recognition of the various merits of Scotland. favour of published views, and to map the actual facts in Archibald Geikie was born at Edinburgh in 1838. | entire disregard of theory." arn from a notice in the Mining Journal that he From the work ably carried on by the distinguished ducated at the Royal High School and at the Edin surveyors, and verified on the spot by the DirectorUniversity. When he was only twenty years old General, it appeared clearly that Murchison had been came an assistant on the Geological Survey for deceived by prodigious terrestrial disturbances, of which, ind, and proved so able that in 1867, when the at the time, nobody could have formed an idea. Over sh branch of the Survey was made a separate es immense reversed faults, termed thrust planes by Geikie iment, Sir Roderick Murchison deemed he could and his officers, the older rocks on the upthrow side had better than confer the directorial powers on the been, as it were, pushed horizontally forward, covering assistant whom he had appreciated at work. Four much younger sediments; and the displacement attained later, the chair of Geology and Mineralogy at the the almost incredible distance of more than ten miles. rsity having been founded by Sir Roderick with a Sometimes an outlier of the displaced ground was found rrent endowment by the Crown, Archibald Geikie capping a hill, while the remainder had been swept away vested with the new professorship, which he resigned | by erosion, and the strangeness of the case led the observer it the beginning of 1881, when he was appointed to to write, “ One almost refuses to believe that the little ed Sir Andrew C. Ramsay as Director-General of outlier at the summit does not lie normally on the rocks jeological Survey of the United Kingdom, and below it, but on a nearly horizontal fault.” tor of the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Disturbances of that kind had already been noticed in

some coal-basins, as, for example, on the southern limit it the new Director had not disappointed the hopes of the French and Belgian coal-field, where similar d excitel, appeared with sufficient clearness when, 1 outliers had been termed by M. Gosselet " lambeaux de poussée." But they occurred on a much smaller scale, old and long-extinct lakes, where the grits and ca and there was no reason why the phenomena should be glomerates of the Old Red were piled up through s considered otherwise than as quite exceptional. To disintegration of surrounding formations, namely, Lào recognize the generality of that class of stratigraphical Orcadie, Lake Caledonia, Lake Cheviot, Welsb Lab accidents was a conquest of a high order, not only for and Lake of Lorne ; each of them being a separate bra. Scottish geology, but for all countries where the work of where the work of sedimentation has been many te orogenetic disturbances has for a long time suffered from interrupted by volcanic outbursts, while in the adjace the agencies of erosion. The Highlands of Scotland and more quiet seas there were accumulated the man belong to that part of the old European continent which deposits of Devonshire. in earlier Palæozoic times emerged from the sea. Near But the chief work of Sir Archibald seems to be the end of the Silurian period it was subjected to enormous exhaustive review of the volcanic history of the Brian pressure, which resulted in folding and breaking the Isles. While his brother, Dr. James Geikie, the autho whole border of the dry land, raising in the air a series of of “The Great Ice Age," has done excellent service high mountainous ridges, the Caledonian chain of M. deciphering the marks of former ice action on the sou Suess. But millions of years have since passed over the the United Kingdom, Sir Archibald has been particular land, and the continued action of atmospheric powers has attracted by the work of fire, i.e, by the records of a left but a very small part of the original mass. It is ex- volcanic activity, the evidence of which is so deeply in tremely difficult, therefore, to restore the broken continuity; pressed on the scenery of the Hebrides, of Wales, ali and through the quiet appearance of the now planed ground, other districts of Great Britain. the geologist is everywhere bound to search after the The British Isles are now a very quiet ground, where scattered signs of previous plication and fracture. This is explosive activity and projection of stones seem to be now the task to be fulfilled by the detailed Survey, and restricted to electoral periods ; and although Scotland has every stratigraphical difficulty has to be treated in the been from time to time shaken by minor earthquakes, no newly-acquired light.

human eye has ever seen there any volcanic outbury, A few years after that discovery had been made in | Nevertheless, during Tertiary times, immense sbects of Scotland, Prof. Marcel Bertrand made in Southern France lava were poured out in the north-west of the country. quite similar observations, showing that very limited To discern the site of the centres of eruption, and dete patches of older formations, which had been till then re- mine the old chimneys, the remnants of which give a garded as remnants of ancient islets, projecting out of glimpse into the lowest parts of ascending lavas; to younger geological seas, were nothing else than outliers of discriminate the volcanic necks, the intrusive sheets asi reversed folds, the remainder of which had disappeared dykes, the bedded lavas and the tuffs--this was the br. under the action of rain and rivers.

part of the task undertaken by Sir Archibald Bgt In this manner the correction of a long accepted error was not enough for him to re-ascend in the past to the has led to stratigraphical conclusions of the highest im- | beginning of the Tertiary period. Not only in the Old port. In the meantime these gigantic displacements Red of Scotland, but in the very heart of the oldest formashowed themselves accompanied by intense modifications tions known in England and Wales, there were numerous of the rocks, so that Geikie was entitled to write : “In evidences of previous volcanic activity. To use Geikie's exchange for this abandoned belief, we are presented words: “ Placed on the edge of a continent and the with startling new evidence of regional metamorphism on margin of a great ocean-basin, the site of Britain has lair a colossal scale, and are admitted some way into the along that critical border-zone where volcanic enerzy: secret of the processes whereby it has been produced.” | more active and continuous."

This is not the only occasion on which Sir Archibald The chief outlines of that marvellous story, which was has given proof of his readiness to admit frankly and hardly suspected some years ago, were recently traced decidedly the correction of opinions which have long been in Geikie's presidential addresses to the Geological Soheld. Some years ago, when the Lower Cambrian fauna ciety of London ; a work which has been qualified by Me had been detected by the officers of the Survey much Iddings, the distinguished American petrographer, as below the Durness limestone of the Highlands, in a series “one of the most important contributions to the histor of strata which rests unconformably on the Torridon of volcanic action.” Nevertheless, it is only a preliminary sandstone, he was the first to announce the fact before paper, and in the same manner as he already bas devoted the Geological Society. The" Precambrian," which he had a special memoir to the volcanic outbursts of Tertiary till then been rather reluctant to recognize, has now taken times, Sir Archibald promises to publish in a short tim its place in the scale of divisions. Moreover, he has a detailed account of the Palæozoic eruptions. created a new name, that of “ Dalradian," for the long! In order to become competent for such an understrip of Precambrian deposits which extends from Donegal taking, the author had prepared himself without sparing to the centre and south-west of Scotland.

time, labour, or trouble. Having travelled over much As one of the most characteristic formations in Scots of Europe, from the north of Norway to the Lipan land is the Old Red Sandstone, we cannot be surprised | Islands, he was anxious to learn from personal observathat Sir Archibald has devoted much care to the de. tion the broad features of that American continent, the scription of the peculiarities of that interesting group of geological construction of which seems to have been strata. After a long and detailed study of the whole conceived on a much larger scale than that of Europe. ground, he has summed up his views in some important Therefore in 1878 he rambled over many handreds ol memoirs, published in the Transactions of the Royal So- miles in Western America, from the Archaan fields of ciety of Edinburgh. There he has called again to life the Canada to the huge volcanic plateaux of Oregon and

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