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Fieldiana. Geology

Smithsonian Libraries
Title from caption. Latest issue consulted: New ser., no. 14, published in 1984. Chemical abstracts 0009-2258 1945-1975 Issues for <1981-> called Also available online. Available also by subscription via the World Wide Web; access available via SIL PURL. Issued by the Chicago Natural History Museum, 1945-Feb. 1966; by the Field Museum of Natural History, Mar. 1966- Merged with Fieldiana. Botany and Fieldiana. Geology to form Fieldiana. Life and earth sciences. Elecresource

Geology Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
See also number 4867B

See also number SPI_1699

Pictured is one of the Department of Geology's exhibitions in the Natural History Building--now the National Museum of Natural History.

Geology Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
See also number 18267F

See also number SPI_1700

Pictured is one of the Department of Geology's exhibitions in the Natural History Building, now the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition in this image features fossils.

Journal of geology (Online)

Smithsonian Libraries
Vol. 23 includes supplement to no. 8: "The later stages of the evolution of the igneous rocks," by N. K. Bowen. Also available online. Available on microfilm from University Microfilms; on microfiche from J.S. Canner & Co. and Johnson Associates. Available also by subscription via the World Wide Web; access available via SIL PURL. Vols. for 1893-<1923> published by the Dept. of Geology and Paleontology, University of Chicago. Elecresource Vols. for 1893-19<23> includes section: "Reviews."

Department of Geology Stacks

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Also known as number SIA_007177_B15_F44_I01 and SPI_1696

Pictured are the stacks for the United States National Museum, Department of Geology--now part of the National Museum of Natural History. Two men are working in the stacks, one of whom is Albert Charles Peale.

Civil War Geology

Smithsonian Magazine

Bob Whisonant is a Civil War buff with a peculiar way of looking at the Civil War. If you ask him to talk about, say, the Battle of Antietam, he might begin, “Well, it all started 500 million years ago.”

Whisonant is a geologist, trained to study how layers of sediment form. He worked first at an oil company, then as a professor at Radford University in Virginia for more than 30 years. It wasn’t long before his geologic training began to inform his longstanding fascination with the Civil War. When Whisonant learned that there were others like him, he began to attend conferences on what is known as military geology.

About a decade ago, he met Judy Ehlen, an Army Corps of Engineers geologist with similar interests, and the two hatched a plan: what might they learn by studying the geology underlying the Civil War’s 25 bloodiest battles? When they plotted those battles on a map, they found that nearly a quarter of them had been fought atop limestone—more than on any other kind of substrate. What’s more, those limestone battles were among the most gruesome of the list. “Killer limestone,” they called it.

But limestone is not inherently toxic. Why had it proved so hazardous? The key to the puzzle, they found, is that limestone erodes relatively easily. Over millions of years, limestone bedrock weathers into flat, open terrain. And as any soldier who has charged into enemy fire knows, open terrain “is a bad place to be,” as Whisonant puts it. He and Ehlen presented their work at the 2008 meeting of the Geological Society of America; an article is forthcoming in a book titled Military Geography and Geology: History and Technology.

Whisonant and Ehlen are quick to acknowledge that soldiers have known for thousands of years that terrain affects battles. But military geology takes things “a step deeper,” Whisonant says (with “no pun intended”). Where a military historian might note the importance of the high ground or available cover in a battle, geologists look at a longer chain of causation. By making the strata of battlefields their subject of study, they give greater context, and a new perspective, to old battlefields.

Take the battle of Antietam, which occurred on September 17, 1862. It remains the bloodiest day in American history—23,000 men died or were wounded on that battlefield—as well as one of the most strategically significant of the Civil War. The Union victory marked a turning point and emboldened President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation a few days later.

The battlefield also offers one of the best illustrations of Civil War geology. Antietam was fought atop different types of bedrock: in one area was limestone; in another, dolomite. Over millions of years, these different bedrocks eroded into distinct terrains. The limestone area became flat and open. But because dolomite is harder than limestone, the dolomite areas eroded into less even terrain, filled with hills and ridges that provided some cover.

Image by Radford University. Bob Whisonant is a geologist, trained to study how layers of sediment form. (original image)

Image by Keith Snyder, NPS. Antietam remains the bloodiest day in American history—23,000 men died or were wounded on that battlefield. (original image)

Image by Alexander Gardner / NPS. A lone grave on the battlefield of Antietam. (original image)

Image by Alexander Gardner / NPS. Grave of Lt. John A. Clark with a dead Confederate soldier looking as if his body was just tossed aside. (original image)

Image by NPS. The "Valley of Death" and Devil's Den as viewed from the statue to General Warren on Little Round Top, 1910. (original image)

Image by NPS. The War Department-era observation tower overlooks Union positions on Oak Ridge, 1910. (original image)

One result: the fighting atop the limestone produced casualties at almost five times the rate of the fighting atop the dolomite. Limestone underlies the section of the battleground called the Cornfield—“the single bloodiest piece of ground in Civil War history,” Whisonant says. There, the bullets flew so relentlessly that by the battle’s end, “it looked like a scythe had come through and mowed down the cornstalks.” There were 12,600 casualties after three hours of fighting at the Cornfield, or 4,200 casualties an hour; at Burnside Bridge, which sat atop dolomite, there were 3,500 casualties after four hours, or 875 an hour.

Beyond its role in shaping battlefield topography, geology affected Civil War battles in less intuitive ways. At Gettysburg, Union soldiers arrayed themselves along a high, rocky spine called Cemetery Ridge. It was a commanding position, but it had a disadvantage: when the Confederates began bursting shells above them, the Union soldiers found that they couldn’t dig foxholes into the rock.

Between battles, troop movements were fundamentally “constrained by geology,” says Frank Galgano of Villanova University, who previously taught military geology at West Point. There is an oft-repeated myth that the Battle of Gettysburg occurred where it did because a Union general brought his weary, ill-shod troops there in search of a shoe factory. The fact, Galgano says, is that eight roads converged at Gettysburg, so a confrontation was bound to occur there. Those roads, in turn, had been built along axes determined by the topography, which was formed by tectonic events. “This seminal event in American history occurred here because of something that happened eons ago,” Galgano says.

Military geologists acknowledge that their work reveals only one of many forces that influence the outcome of war. “Leadership, morale, dense woods…the list goes on and on,” Whisonant says. Plus, he points out that there are plenty of battles where the role of geology was minor. Even so, the lay of the land and its composition have long been recognized as crucial.

For that reason, armies have sought the counsel of geologists (or their contemporary equivalents) since ancient times. But not until the 20th century, Whisonant says, were there organized efforts to harness geologists’ knowledge in waging war. Today, military geologists work on a “whole wide range of things,” he says. How easily can troops march along a certain terrain? What vehicles can pass? How will weaponry affect the landscape? Before she retired from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2005, Judy Ehlen conducted research intended to help Army analysts learn to identify rock types from satellite and aerial imagery. Whisonant says he knows a geologist who is “looking at the geology of the area [Osama] bin Laden is supposedly in, helping the Department of Defense assess what will happen if a missile goes in a cave.”

So long as warfare is waged on Earth, armies will need people who study the planet’s surface. “Throughout history it’s always the same,” Galgano says, “and it will be the same 100 years from now.”

But it’s that war from over 100 years ago that keeps beckoning to Whisonant. He says he has been moved by his visits to battlefields from the American Revolution to World War II, but that the Civil War battlefields—with their level fields, their rolling hills, their rocky outcroppings—move him most. “The gallantry, the willingness to pay the last full measure, as Lincoln said, by both sides has really consecrated that ground,” he says.

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Artist's Geology Lesson

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Cambrian Geology and Paleontology

Smithsonian Libraries

Bulletin of the Department of Geology

Smithsonian Libraries
Each no. has also a distinctive title.

Also available online.

Elecresource

Elements of geology / by Charles Lyell

Smithsonian Libraries
"Printed and bound by James Kay, Jun. & Brother Philadelphia"--Verso of t.p.

Plate is hand-colored.

Also available online.

SCNHRB copy (39088002355253) has bookplate: George P. Merrill, U.S.N.M.

SCNHRB copy inscribed in ink on original front free endpaper: L.R. Gibbes N. Haven Sep. 1844 $1.25.

SCNHRB copy quarter bound in modern brown goatskin and blue paste-paper, title in gilt on spine.

Elecresource

In the Department of Geology

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Title Slide.

London Museum of Practical Geology

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Poster design for the London Underground, advertising the London Museum of Practical Geology (which can be reached by the railway). At center, a black and grey jagged abstracted "stibnite" rising out of a low jagged crystal-like form. Above, in pink and grey: LONDON / MUSEUM / OF / PRACTiCAL / GEOLOGY; below: STIBNITES / PICCADILLY CIRCUS / JERMYN STREET. At bottom: TRAVEL BY [a stamp of the London Underground].

Geology Faculty of University of Chicago

Smithsonian Institution Archives
See also number SIA_007177_B13_F03_I01

See also number SPI_1682

Geology faculty at the University of Chicago, including Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose, Jr., Joseph Paxson Iddings, Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, Charles Richard Van Hise and Rollin D. Salisbury.

Annals and magazine of natural history, including zoology, botany, and geology, and geology 1840-

Smithsonian Libraries
GeoRef 0197-7482

Also available online.

Available also via the World Wide Web; access available via SIL PURL.

Merger of: Annals of natural history, and: Magazine of natural history.

Elecresource

NH vol. 39088013140389 missing pages 389-390.

Geology, physical and historical, by Herdman Fitzgerald Cleland ..

Smithsonian Libraries
Also available online.

Elecresource

Text-book of geology. By Sir Archibald Geikie

Smithsonian Libraries
Also available online.

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An introduction to geology; by William B. Scott ..

Smithsonian Libraries
Also available online.

Elecresource

The student's elements of geology. By Sir Charles Lyell

Smithsonian Libraries
Also available online.

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Geology / by Thomas C. Chamberlin and Rollin D. Salisbury

Smithsonian Libraries
Also available online.

Elecresource

Plates Illustrating the Geology & Scenery of Massachusetts

National Museum of American History
Color and black and white prints bound together illustrating the scenery and geology of Massachusetts. There are nine views 1) Autumnal Scenery. View in Amherst. 2) A View in Hadley. 3) Gorge Between Holyoke and Tom. 4) West View from Holyoke. 5) South Hadley Falls. 6) Sugar Loaf Mountain, Deerfield. 7) Confluence of Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers. 8) Turner's Falls. 9) Gorge of Glen, -Leyden; four plates containing drawings of organic remains; four maps of sections in Massachusetts and Connecticut; and a "Tabular View of the Rocks and their embedded Minerals in Massachusetts".

Shorter contributions to general geology, 1919 / David White, chief geologist

Smithsonian Libraries
Also available online.

Elecresource
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