William Smith Meeting 2015 – 200 Years of Smith’s Map


23 - 25 Apr 2015

The History of Geology Group (HOGG)  is organising the Geological Society’s flagship William Smith Meeting 2015 to celebrate publication of the first geological map of a nation 200 years ago.

Conference: 23-24 April 2015 at Burlington House, London

Field excursion: 25 April 2015

William SmithWilliam Smith (1769 –1839) was an English geologist who created the first nationwide geological map. In 1794, working as a surveyor on the construction for the Somerset Coal Canal, Smith recognised that each stratigraphic horizon contained a unique assemblage of fossils. This enabled him to work out the order of strata from the fossils they contained. From 1799 he mapped local strata, eventually creating the first geological map of England and Wales, published in 1815. In the interim, his ideas were widely disseminated throughout the geological community.  Like many new theories they took time to become accepted. In 1831 the Geological Society of London awarded Smith the first Wollaston Medal and the President, Adam Sedgwick, referred to him as ‘the Father of English Geology’.


This bicentenary meeting aims to address:

  • Smith’s achievements and his impact on the state of geology in his time, his fossil collection, his contemporaries, his relationship with the Geological Society of London, and his various careers including canal builder, land drainer, mineral surveyor and lecturer.
  • Smith’s map, ‘Delineating the Strata of England and Wales with Part of Scotland’, contemporary concepts of geological survey and map design, and past and present research into surviving Smith maps, sections and documents.

Call for Papers:  We are pleased to invite all interested participants to submit abstracts for oral presentations on topics of relevance. Presentations should last 25 minutes. International contributions are most welcome, although no financial assistance can be given. HOGG will provide a letter of invitation on request. 500-word abstracts should be submitted by 31 August 2014 to John Henry: wmsmith2015@gmail.com

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Simon Knell, Professor Hugh Torrens, Dr Tom Sharpe

Posters:  Given the fundamentally graphic contribution of William Smith to geology, posters are also invited and it is intended that short presentations of selected posters will be addressed to the conference audience prior to the poster sessions. 250-word abstracts should be submitted by
24 August 2014 to John Henry: wmsmith2015@gmail.com

Publication: It is intended that the conference proceedings will be published as a Geological Society Special Publication.  Speakers will be strongly encouraged to contribute to this. Please indicate your willingness to contribute a paper when submitting your abstract. Suggestions for written contributions to supplement the proceedings from the conference are also invited.

Field and other visits: During the conference we aim to visit Smith’s fossil and rock collections at the Natural History Museum, and to unveil a plaque on Smith’s London house. An evening celebratory dinner is also planned. On Saturday 25 April we will visit the Smith Archive at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and Smith’s birthplace and the Smith Heritage Centre in Churchill village. 

Event organisers: David Williams, Cherry Lewis, John Henry

For further information please e-mail: wmsmith2015@gmail.com