The search for minerals and fuel drove much early geological investigation. The earliest account of mining was Georgius Agricola’s De Re Metallica (on the nature of Metals) and remained the authority for nearly two centuries after its publication, in Latin, in 1556. The English translation, only in 1912 and for historic interest, is now very rare. In 1950 Dover publications produced a facsimile copy with the many woodcut engravings of the original.
Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie devoted many pages of illustrations to crystals and valuable metals that had long attracted mankind’s curiosity. At the time ‘Fossils’ included all objects found in the ground including not only petrified organic remains, but also minerals and archaeological finds.
As geology advanced as a science and the industrial revolution created a demand for raw materials and fuel, more systematic books on mining were published, such as Thomas Sopwith’s Account of the Mining Districts of Alston Moor, Weardale, and Teesdale, and William Wallace’s Laws which Regulate the deposition of Lead Ore in Veins, also based on his work at Alston Moor.
On the back of discoveries new Geological Surveys were founded providing more a more systematic approach through detailed mapping
and compiling voluminous information from major mining developments to support more intensive exploration and development.
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