William Smith

William Smith (1769-1839), an English canal engineer, spent a lot of time walking along the canals of England.  He recognized regionally persistent layers of rock, with characteristic color, rock types, and other physicsl characteristics, which we would now call formations, and that each layer contained unique and identifiable fossils.   Given a fossil, Smith could identify the layer from which it came.  His ultimate contribution was a geologic map of England with each rock layer identified by color.  This is still the standard for geologic maps today.

Smith's 1815 map (Wikipedia)

Last revision 1/5/2020