Roderick Impey Murchison

Roderick Impey Murchison

Birth
Death 22 Oct 1871 (aged 79)
Burial West Brompton, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 18569702 · View Source
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Scientist. He is remembered for being the first geologist to discover in 1831 the Early Paleozoic rocks in Wales dating 542 million years ago and ending about 251 million years ago. These findings were the subject of his monumental “The Silurain System” which was published in 1839, revised in 1854 and a 5th edition in 1872. Silurain formations are widely scattered around the world; an example is bordering the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls, which causes erosion exposing the layers of the earth. Economically for England, these findings became very important in locating future coal reserves. He named this layer Sikurain after the Silures, an ancient Romano-British tribe that was native in the region. Murchison disagreed in subdividing the Sikurain into three different parts, but that was done eventually. With the collaborated of British geologists Adam Sedgwick and Charles Lyell, he explored for five years Scotland, France, and Switzerland especially the Alps. Traveling with Lyell, he studied the volcanoes in Italy. He and Segwick founded the Devonian System, based on their research of geology of southwestern England and in Germany along the banks of the Rhine River and published a paper on their findings. He traveled on an expedition to Russia and co-authored in 1845, “The Geology of Russian in Europe and the Ural Mountains.” In 1841 he proposed the establishment of the Permian System based on his finding in Russia. In 1840, he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was knighted in 1846 for his findings in geology, In 1855 he was appointed Director General of the Geological Survey of Great Britain serving until his death. He was the director of the Royal School of Mines and from 1847 to 1849, the Museum of Practical Geology located in London. He made Knights Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1863 and three years later raised to 1st Baronet. British societies bestowed their highest awards on him: He was presented the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1849, the Geographical Society's Wollaston Medal, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Brisbane Medal. In 1871 he founded the chair of the geology and mineralogy at the University of Edinburgh. According to his will, he was to be the benefactor for the Murchison Medal and Geological Fund, which was presented annually to a worthy recipient. After his father died, he left Scotland at an early age to attend English boarding schools, which was followed with the Royal Military College at Great Marlow, England. He entered the military as an officer and was deployed in 1801 to Spain briefly seeing action. After eight years in the military, he resigned his commission. In 1815 he married Charlotte Hugonin, a general's daughter, and as a valuable assistant, she traveled with him on his expeditions taking notes for his books. Along with his wife, Sir Humphrey Davy encouraged him to study geology. After publishing his first geological paper on findings in England in the areas of Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, he joined the Geological Society of London in 1825 and by 1831, for the first of two terms, was the society's president. Years later, it was learned that there were some errors in his pioneer findings of the highlands of Scotland. Unlike most of his colleagues, he was totally opposed to Darwin's evolutionary theory. The Murchison crater on the moon was named in his honor as well as Mount Murchison in New Zealand, Murchison Fall on the Nile River in Uganda, the Murchison River in Australia, Murchison Range in the Stauning Alps of Greenland, and Murchison Island off Canada's west coast. A memorial was installed on November 3, 2005 in front of a school in Perm in Russia to honor him with the inscribed plate reading: “To Roderick Impey Murchison, Scottish geologist, explorer of Perm Krai, who gives the last period of the Palaeozoic era the name of Permian.” The Ural-Scottish Society erected in 2009 a memorial to honor him on the banks of the Chusovaya River in Russia. The British Historical Blue Plaque was placed on his home, Barnard Castle, in County Durham, England and there is a Murchison Street in East London, England.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: s.canning
  • Added: 23 Mar 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 18569702
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Roderick Impey Murchison (19 Feb 1792–22 Oct 1871), Find a Grave Memorial no. 18569702, citing Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .