Roderick Impey Murchison

Murchison, Roderick Impey


Born Feb. 19, 1792, in Tarradale, Scotland; died Oct. 22, 1871, in London. British geologist; professor of geology and mineralogy at the University of Edinburgh (1871).

Murchison studied in Durham and at the military college of Great Marlow. In 1826 he became a fellow of the Royal Society and in 1831 was elected president of the Geological Society of London. Murchison’s first works were devoted to the geological structure of England and Scotland; he also made a major contribution to the study of the geological structure of the Alps with the British geologist A. Sedgwick. Murchison’s most significant research was on the stratigraphy of the graywacke strata of Wales that underlie the Old Red Sandstone; as a result of this work he introduced the Silurian system (period) in 1835. Murchison’s work with Sedgwick in southwestern England and the Rhineland (now in the Federal Republic of Germany) made possible the establishment of the Devonian system (period) in 1839. In 1841, after a visit to Russia, Murchison introduced the Permian system (period). In 1845, with the Russian paleontologist A. A. Keiserling (Keyserling) and the French paleontologist P. Verneuil, Murchison compiled a description of the geology of European Russia and the Urals (Russian translation, 1849). The basic work of dividing the Paleozoic group (age) was completed with this research. Murchison was a member of a number of scientific societies and academies, including the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1845). The Geological Society of London established a medal in his honor for outstanding work in geology.


The Silurian System Founded on Geological Researches in the Counties of Solop, Hereford, Radnor. ... London, 1839.
In Russian translation:
Geologicheskoe opisanie Evropeiskoi Rossii i khrebta Ural’skogo, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1849. (With others.)


Shatskii, N. S. Roderik Impei Murchison. Moscow, 1941.
Geikie, A. Life of Sir R. I. Murchison, 2 vols. London, 1875.
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Roderick Impey Murchison, a renowned 19thcentury geologist and one of the founding members of the Royal Geographical Society (and, for a number of years, its president), came to the area to study the greywacke or 'transition' rocks that lie under the local red sandstone.
It covers, among many others, collections of the papers of David Gregory, expert in the 1690s on cometary orbits, and a friend of Isaac Newton; John Walker, the naturalist who inventoried the economic bounty of the Scottish highlands; Robert Jameson, mineralogist; the chemist Joseph Black; polymath John Robison; and geologists Charles Lyell, Archibald Geckie and Roderick Impey Murchison. Enthusiasts of the history of zoology will appreciate access to the archive of James Cossar Ewart, who studied animal eyes and many other topics.
The famous British geologist, Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792-1871), and the French paleontologist, Philippe de Verneuil (1805-1873), had decided to undertake the first geological research expedition through Russia.