William Smith map – new website and conference links

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    Dear All,
    For those interested in the history of cartography, you will find a new website about the background to William Smith’s iconic 1815 map, Delineations of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland, at http://www.strata-smith.com. It covers in considerable detail John Cary’s fundamental contribution, the base maps, to this and Smith’s later smaller and larger scale maps.

    Of major cartographic interest is the discussion of historic map projections and rectifying Cary’s large scale county projections to his national map for the purpose of compiling a ‘map that might have been’ had Smith completed his county geological atlas. It is possible to compare maps in great detail with a toggle feature. This is significant, geologically, as Smith modified his map as new information was received during the map production process. This revision was possible because the geology was hand coloured and it was easy for Smith to incorporate variations . As most of the 1815 maps were numbered and dated by Smith for quality control, it is possible to see the development of his knowledge in a short time span (although the publication date was 1st August, 1815, the maps were issued by Smith from 1815 to 1817). Approx 370 were produced of which 70 are known to survive.

    The rectification process extends to putting all the Smith/Cary maps onto a modern standard grid for the purpose of comparing them to modern maps and constructing fly throughs over Smith’s geology draped over a a modern digital terrain model.

    The discussion of the map accuracies and inaccuracies in Cary’s maps demonstrates the effectiveness of his rudimentary triangulation procedures (not documented) between urban centres and the impact of the Board of Ordnance’s Trigonometric Survey on correcting errors on coastlines and outside of the network between urban centres.

    The History of Geology Group is holding a major conference on 23-24 April on ‘Smith: 200 years of the Map’ at the Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. For more information and the programme, please visithttp://www.geolsoc.org.uk/wsmith15. Smith maps will be on display during the conference and there will be a lecture by the creator of the Strata Smith website, Peter Wigley.

    John Henry
    History of Geology Group

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