Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey

Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey

(mûr`kĭsən), 1792–1871, British geologist. He served in the Napoleonic Wars but after the peace turned his attention to science. In the 1830s he undertook the investigation of previously undifferentiated rock strata in Wales and England; as a result of his researches he established the SilurianSilurian period
[from the Silures, ancient tribe of S Wales, where the period was first studied; named by the British geologist R. I. Murchison], third period of the Paleozoic era of geologic time (see Geologic Timescale, table) lasting from 405 to 435 million years ago.
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 as a new geologic system and described it in The Silurian System (2 vol. in 1, 1839). With Adam SedgwickSedgwick, Adam,
1785–1873, English geologist. He was a professor at Cambridge from 1818. His most important work was a study, made with R. I. Murchison, of the rock formation of Devonshire, which they named the Devonian system. Sedgwick also introduced the term Cambrian.
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 he collaborated on the establishment of the Devonian system, and after carrying on an extended survey in Russia (1840–44) he also defined and named the Permian periodPermian period
[from Perm, Russia], sixth and last period of the Paleozoic era (see Geologic Timescale, table) from 250 to 290 million years ago. Historical Geology of the Period
The Lower Permian
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. His last investigations were directed toward the geology of the Scottish Highlands. In 1846 he was knighted, and in 1855 he was appointed director-general of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. Murchison endowed a chair of geology and mineralogy at the Univ. of Edinburgh. He revised and modified the material of his earlier work in Siluria (1854) and collaborated on the Geology of Russia in Europe and the Ural Mountains (1845).

Bibliography

See biography by Sir Archibald Geikie (2 vol., 1875).

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