Abstract View

Volume 26 Issue 7 (July 2016)

GSA Today

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Article, pp. 4-10 | Full Text | PDF (6.4MB)

The development and evolution of the William Smith 1815 geological map from a digital perspective


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Peter Wigley

Lynx Geographic Information Systems Ltd, 93-99 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 2TG, UK


William Smith’s 1815 geological map of England and Wales is a masterpiece; the map differs from all other contemporaneous maps in that Smith applied the principles of stratigraphy to its construction. The maps are extremely rare and therefore not readily available for study and analysis; however, over the past decade a number of Smith geological maps have been digitally scanned and some incorporated into a Geographic Information System (GIS). Early nineteenth-century maps of the United Kingdom (UK) present a number of difficulties when trying to build them into a GIS, mostly related to projection problems and the fact that many pre-date the “1st Principal Triangulation” of the UK. However, once in the GIS, they can be used with great effect to show the evolution of Smith’s maps and also to compare his maps with modern geology. When combined with digital terrain data, Smith’s maps can be displayed in 3D.

Manuscript received 18 Dec. 2015; accepted 20 Feb. 2016

doi: 10.1130/GSATG279A.1