Geological mapping—of our world and others
Lucy Williams delights in the magic of geological maps in anticipation of the upcoming William Smith meeting
Who amongst us doesn’t love a geological map? As an undergraduate, one of my best-loved classes was structural geology with Roger Mason. We learnt how to ‘read’ a geological map and translate the 2-dimentional surface outcrop into cross-sections, thereby delving into the unseen subsurface structure. The graduating colour pallet of strata provided an introduction to a stratigraphic history that spanned what seemed (to my 19-year-old self) an incomprehensible amount of time.
The maps we had studied in the classroom were bought to life by visiting the same field locations, using our shiny new compass-clinometers to measure the dip and strike of beds for ourselves, and by repeating the work carried out by field geologists before us who generated the ‘works of art’ that are the geological maps of Great Britain… and beyond.
More recently, 291 million kilometres from Earth, I have been absorbed by the exploration of Mars by NASA robots Curiosity and Perseverance. The mind-boggling images and videos acquired through these missions are expanding our mapping capabilities into new dimensions.
The Geological Society has collected geological maps since 1808. This treasure trove is one of the most comprehensive collections of geological maps in the world, and the inspiration for this year’s William Smith Meeting, Geological Mapping—of our world and others. Maps are fundamental to geology. The map-making process is an essential component of both traditional field studies and more advanced technological methods of data collection and interpretation, and was integral to some of the earliest discoveries in Earth sciences, as well as the latest breakthroughs.
Join us for an international celebration of geological mapping that will explore the historical importance of maps, as well as their role in the future of our subject.
William Smith Virtual Meeting 2021: Geological Mapping—of our world and others
19 – 21 October 2021
Abstract submission deadline: Thursday 15 July 2021