Darwin the Geologist

Darwin the Geologist takes you back to Charles Darwin’s early life and career as a geologist, and tells the story of the rocks Darwin collected on the voyage of HMS Beagle (1831-1836). See how he developed his geological ideas during the voyage, the significance geology had in his scientific work throughout his career, and how his geological work has influenced current geologists. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a globe projection interactive that tells you about some of the places that Darwin collected his rock samples from on the voyage. A reconstruction of Darwin's Beagle cabin shows the rocks he collected on one day at Wollaston Island (south of Chile) and the notebooks and scientific instruments that he used to record and analyse them. On display are Darwin's geological field notebook, pistol and hand lenses from Down House (English Heritage) and the types of microscope, goniometer and compass clinometer that Darwin would have taken on the voyage from the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge.

Click here to explore Darwin's geologist tools

  All the world knows about Charles Darwin the naturalist but when he embarked on the Beagle voyage in 1831, he regarded himself as just as much a geologist. And, as a geologist he collected samples of most of the rocks and fossils he came across around the world from the Cape Verde Islands to South America, the Falkland Islands, the Galapagos Islands, Australia, Mauritius and South Africa. But additionally he often went out of his way to visit mines, mineral deposits and rocks with economic potential, especially in South America. The illustrated specimen of coal comes from Bahia, South America, which was collected in 1836 on the last leg of his journey home.  

        

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