University of Tasmania
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Charles Darwin's field notes on the geology of Hobart Town- a modern appraisal

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-02, 05:00 authored by MR Banks, DE Leaman
A transcription of unpublished field notes made by Charles Darwin details the observations and initial deductions he made on the geology of Hobart, Tasmania, and comments thereon place his work in a modern context. The field notes enable the routes of his excursions while in Hobart Town to be inferred in considerable detail and confirm earlier ideas about the site from which important fossils were collected. They also allow some appreciation of Darwin's style of geological study. Darwin's field notes reveal that he thought of the possibility of the influence of earthquakes on Tertiary beds at Sandy Bay. Several of his ideas on the geology, shown by these notes, some of them also in his publications (e.g. the origin of a Tertiary freshwater limestone, and relative movement of the land and sea in the area), remain topics for further study. His work in the Hobart area and his understanding of the geology of Van Diemen's Land were enhanced by contact with George Frankland, Surveyor-General, who had a long-term and systematic interest in the topic. The notes formed the basis ofa geological "Memo on Hobart Town" and, later, two publications, each work having a different purpose and emphasis. His work near Hobart did not produce enough information for the construction of a stratigraphic framework ("imperfect sketches of the Geology"). The imperfections, with other considerations, may have influenced him not to publish the memo which rendered subsequent publications less clear and less useful than had the memo been published. Darwin recognised the influence of glaciation on the Permian sedimentary rocks in the area but did not publish his observations and interpretation


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Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania







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