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Nature volume 31, pages 258260 | Download Citation



LONDON Geologists' Association, January 2.—On some recent views concerning the geology of the North-West Highlands, by Henry Hics, M.D., F.G.S., President of the Association. The author stated that as the Proceedings of the Association contained several papers dealing with the controversy concerning the rocks of the North-West Highlands of Sco land, he thought it advisable to call the attention of the members to views contained in an important article published in NATURE (p. 29) by the Director-General of the Geological Survey, and in a “Report on the Geology of the North-West of Sutherland,” by Messrs. Peach and Home, in the same number, which cannot fail either to change entirely the future character of the controversy, or bring it rapidly to a satisfactory issue. Because of the positions held by the chief disputants on the one side, the controversy had assumed, to a great extent, the appearance of being one between official surveyors and some amateurs, who had been led to study the questions involved in it. The well-known and widely-accepted views first put forward by wSir R. Murchison, that there were clear evidences in the North-West of Scotland of a “regular conformable passage from fossiliferous Silurian quartzites, shales, and limestones upwards into crystalline schists, which were supposed to be metamorphosed Silurian sediments,” were fully adopted by the official surveyors, including Sir A. C. Ramsay and Prof. Geikie, also by the late Prof. Harkness and others, who had examined the areas. Prof. Nicol, of Aberdeen, however, for many years stoutly contested Sir R. Murchison's views, and maintained that they were based on erroneous observations. Unfortunately, at that time his views did not meet with much approval. In the year 1878 the author re-opened the controversy by calling attention to some sections examine by him in Ross shire, which he maintained did not bear out the views of Sir R. Murchison. He also suggested a modified interpretation of the views of Prof. Nicol. Since then many areas in Ross and Sutherland have been examined by Mr. Hudleston, Prof. Bonney, Dr. Callaway, Prof. Lapworth, and Prof. Blake, and their conclusions showed that though differences of opinion prevailed on some points, yet all were agreed as to there being no evidence in the areas examined by them to support the Murchi-sonian view of a conformable upward succession. Many other facts of great importance were brought out in these inquiries. The author expressed gratification at the candid manner in which the whole question had been dealt with by the Director-General and the Surveyors in their recent report, and at their readiness in acknowledging, after due examination in the course of surveying and mapping parts of the areas referred to, that they had found the “evidence altogether overwhelming against the upward succession which Murchison believed to exist.”

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