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HomeContentsThemes > Geology


Photography and geological change
661.01   Charles Lyell on Niagara Falls (1845)
Volcanic eruptions
661.02   Volcanoes and volcanic eruptions
661.03   Giorgio Sommer: Eruption of Vesuvius (1872)
661.04   Giorgio Sommer: Pompeii
661.05   Giorgio Sommer: The ash-covered remains from Pompeii
Geological features
661.06   Geysers
661.07   Glaciers
661.08   Fjords
661.09   Rock formations
661.10   Richebourg: Carte geologique detaillee de la France, Feuille 48.- Paris (1879)
661.11   Joseph Burr Tyrrell: Expedition to the barren lands (1893)
Palaeontology and evolution
661.12   Evolution and the Biblical flood
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
Photography and geological change 
661.01   Scientific >  Charles Lyell on Niagara Falls (1845) 
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The Father Louis Hennepin "discovered" and described Niagara Falls in 1677 although there are several other claims for this honor. Geologist visited Niagara Falls[1] and appreciated that photographic evidence taken earlier would be useful for comparative analysis as contemporary texts indicated:
Sir C. Lyell, in his recently published Travels, observes : "The Falls of Niagara, though continually in motion, have all the effects of a fixed and unvarying feature in the landscape; and, however strange it may seem, some Daguerreotype representations have been executed with no small success. They not only record the form of the rocks and the islands, but even the leading features of the cataract, and the shape of the rising clouds of spray. I have often wished that Father Hennessin[2] could have taken one of these portraits, and bequeathed it to the geologists of our times. It would have afforded us no slight aid in our speculations respecting the comparative states of the ravine in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries." The first series of Views of the Falls taken by the Daguerreotype[3], was executed by J. E. Myall[4], (Prof. High School,) in September, 1846.[5]
Volcanic eruptions 
661.02   Scientific >  Volcanoes and volcanic eruptions 
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661.03   Scientific >  Giorgio Sommer: Eruption of Vesuvius (1872) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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The German-born[6] Italian photographer, Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914) had been operating a photographic studio in Naples, Italy since 1857 making photographs for the tourist trade with subjects including the archaeological remains at Pompei.[7] On 26th April 1872 there was a significant eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and Sommer photographed it.
David Forbes wrote an article on "The Eruption of Vesuvius in 1872" that was published in Nature the following year:
That, in these days of rapid intercourse, the re-appearance of volcanic phenomena on the large scale in any part of the earth’s surface should awaken a far more than mere local interest, was well illustrated in the case of the late great outbreak of Mount Vesuvius, during the continuance of which the telegraphic bulletins received from the fiery mountain became the subject of general inquiry and discussion in all parts of the civilised world; and even now that the eruption has entirely subsided, the publication of a translation by Mr. Mallet, of the report of the well-known Italian savant, Professor Palmieri, entitled “Incendio Vesuviano del 26 Aprile, 1872,” will be welcomed as a valuable contribution to English scientific literature quite independently of its being a book likely to secure numerous readers amongst the non-scientific public also.[8][9]
The great Victorian explorer Charles Montagu Doughty was a witness to the 1872 eruption and described it in his classic work Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888).[10] 
661.04   Scientific >  Giorgio Sommer: Pompeii 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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661.05   Scientific >  Giorgio Sommer: The ash-covered remains from Pompeii 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 it buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and left ash-covered impressions of corpses of those caught in the hydrothermal pyroclastic flows and killed either by asphyxiation or possibly heat shock.[11] By 2003 around 1,044 impressions of bodies had been recovered from Pompeii[12] and in the nineteenth century Giorgio Sommer, based in nearby Naples, had photographed some of these archaeological remains
Geological features 
661.06   Scientific >  Geysers 
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661.07   Scientific >  Glaciers 
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Charles Kingsley in Madam How and Lady Why: or, First lessons in earth lore for children (1888) wrote:
You have seen drawings of such glaciers in Captain Cook's Voyages; and you may see photographs of Swiss glaciers in any good London print-shop; and therefore you have seen almost as much about them as I have seen, and may judge foi yourself how you would like to live where it is always winter.[13]
661.08   Scientific >  Fjords 
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661.09   Scientific >  Rock formations 
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661.10   Scientific >  Richebourg: Carte geologique detaillee de la France, Feuille 48.- Paris (1879) 
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Photographs from the Carte géologique détaillée de la France (1879) 
661.11   Scientific >  Joseph Burr Tyrrell: Expedition to the barren lands (1893) 
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Joseph Burr Tyrrell in his Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, the north-west coast of Hudson Bay, and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg (1897) wrote:
"I beg to present a report on the geology and general resources of the region explored in 1893 and 1894, embraced in an area of about 200,000 square miles, lying north of the 59th parallel of latitude, and west of Hudson Bay. The explorations include the examination and survey of Telzoa or Doobaunt, Kazan, Ferguson, Chipman and Cochrane Rivers, Chesterfield Inlet, and the east coast of Hudson Bay from Chesterfield Inlet to Churchill, and two overland routes, traveled in winter with dog-teams and sledges, between Churchill and Nelson Rivers"[14]
Palaeontology and evolution 
661.12   Scientific >  Evolution and the Biblical flood 
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The nineteenth century was an age of technological progress and intellectual rigour that used scientific evidence to confront religious doctrine. This was the age of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Their expeditions and analysis of evidence from the natural world provided the foundation for evolutionary biology. When On the Origin of Species was published in 1859 it questioned beliefs in the stability of a God-given natural order. Investigations of fossil beds were uncovered bones of life forms that no longer existed on Earth and although the Biblical Flood could be used the reason it was becoming increasingly difficult to support. By 1855 at the Crystal Palace Exhibition large models of extinct animals were placed in the grounds and these were photographed by Philip Henry Delamotte.[15] At this point it had only been about 16 years since the announcement of photography by Daguerre and photography was being used to provide scientific evidence to support hypotheses that would fundamentally alter how humans understood time and biology. A photograph by an unidentified photographer Two workmen in the gravel pit near the Seminary of St Acheul, 27 April 1859. The standing workman is pointing to the in situ flint[16] taken on 27 April 1859 is critical in our understanding of human evolution. Within the section of a gravel pit there and human-made lithic tools beneath layers of bones for extinct animals. The new science of photography was being harnessed to reassess everything that had previously been thought about the development of humans. 

  1. Λ Charles Lyell, 1845, Travels in North America, in the years 1841-2: with Geological Observations on The United States, Canada and Nova Scotia, Two Volumes (London: John Murray), chap. XIX, p. 92 
  2. Λ "Father Hennessin" is incorrect and it should be "Father Hennepin". 
  3. Λ J.E. Mayall certainly displayed daguerreotypes of Nigara Falls but it is uncertain who took them. For Mayall having examples - Walter Thornbury, 1862, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Founded on Letters and Papers Furnished by his Friends and Fellow Academicians, (London: Hurst and Blackett), vol. II, pp. 259-264 
  4. Λ "J. E. Myall" (Prof. High School) is incorrect and it should read "J.E. Mayall" the noted London-based daguerreotypist. 
  5. Λ Sharpe's London Journal, vol. X, p. 50 adds the following with an incorrect spelling of Father Hennepin. 
  6. Λ Although generally held to be an Italian photographer he was born at Frankfurt am Main in Germany ( 2 September 1834) and moved to Italy in the 1850s. 
  7. Λ M. Miraglia (ed.), M. Piantanida, U. Pohlmann & D. Siegert, 1992, Giorgio Sommer in Italien. Fotografien 1857-1888, (Heidelberg: Edition Braus) [Exhibition catalogue]; D. Palazzoli, 1981, Giorgio Sommer fotografo a Napoli, (Milano: Electa) 
  8. Λ David Forbes, 6 February 1873, "The Eruption of Vesuvius in 1872" Nature, vol. 7, pp. 259-261 
  9. Λ Luigi Palmieri, 1873, The Eruption of Vesuvius in 1872, (London: Asher & Co.)
    (Online accessed: 26 August 2013) 
  10. Λ Charles Montagu Doughty, 1888, Travels in Arabia Deserta, (Cambridge University Press), vol. 1, pp. 420-421 
  11. Λ Maria Cristina Valsecchi, 2 November 2010, "Pompeiians Flash-Heated to Death—'No Time to Suffocate' Victims' lifelike poses among clues that ash was not the key killer, study says." - National Geographic News
    (Accessed: 26 August 2013) 
  12. Λ Mount Vesuvius - Wikipedia
    (Accessed: 25 August 2013) 
  13. Λ Charles Kingsley, 1888, Madam How and Lady Why: or, First lessons in earth lore for children, (Macmillan), p. 103 
  14. Λ J.B. Tyrrell, 1897, Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, the north-west coast of Hudson Bay, and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg, (Ottawa: S. E. Dawson), 11/2 
  15. Λ For the Philip Henry Delamotte photographs of the models of extinct animals - British Library, Shelfmark: Tab.442.a.5
    For a contemporary description of the extinct animals - Samuel Phillips, 1857, Guide to the Crystal Palace and Park, p. 189-197 
  16. Λ  Unidentified photographer/creatro, "Two workmen in the gravel pit near the Seminary of St Acheul, 27 April 1859. The standing workman is pointing to the in situ flint", 1859, 27 April, Albumen print, Bibliothèques d'Amiens Métropole


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
George, H.B., 1866, The Oberland and its Glaciers: Explored and Illustrated with Ice-Axe and Camera, (London: Alfred W. Bennett) [Δ
Morton, Vanda, 1987, Oxford Rebels: The Life and Friends of Nevil Story Maskelyne 1823-1911: Pioneer Oxford Scientist, Photographer and Politician, (NY: Alan Sutton) [Δ
Tyrrell, J. Burr, 1897, Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, the north-west coast of Hudson Bay, and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg, (Ottawa: S. E. Dawson) [Δ
Warren, John, 1854, Remarks on some Fossil Impressions in the Sandstone Rocks of Connecticut River, (Boston: Ticknor and Fields) [The second American book containing a photograph. Mr. Silisbee photographed a sandstone slab with fossil remains and a folded salt print is included in the book.] [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Levett Landen Boscawen Ibbetson 
1840, September, ‘Fossils, Engraved on a Daguerreotype Plate‘, Westminster Review, vol. 24 [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

A.P. Low  (1861-1942) • Vittorio Sella  (1859-1943)
HomeThemesScientific > Geology 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
Volcanic eruptions 

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Geology

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailScientific: 19th Century Geology and Palaeontology 
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Released (January 13, 2011)

HomeVisual indexes > Geology

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
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ThumbnailCharles Lyell 
ThumbnailA. Pettitt: Bowder Stone (1868) 
ThumbnailF. Jay Haynes: Yellowstone 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailGeorge Washington Wilson: Fingal's Cave, Staffa (1875) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailGiorgio Sommer: Italy: Mt. Etna 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHannes Grobe: Fluorescent minerals 
ThumbnailRichebourg: Carte géologique détaillée de la France, Feuille 48.- Paris 
ThumbnailUnidentified photographer: The Needles, Isle of Wight 
ThumbnailWilliam Henry Jackson: 104. Rocks near Platte Canyon 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailWilliam Henry Jackson: The Devil's Slide, Cinnabar Mountain 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAlex Lindahl - Unidentified photographer 
ThumbnailCarleton E. Watkins - Benjamin Brecknell Turner 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Geysers 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Glaciers 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Rock formations 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Volcanoes and volcanic eruptions 
ThumbnailScientific: Palaentology 
   Still thinking about these... 
ThumbnailEvolution vs. The Biblical Flood 
Refreshed: 11 April 2014, 19:52
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