New Archive section on website

James Croll

The website has a new section devoted to displaying interesting material from the society's archive. The section presently contains four pages. The first, Introduction, describes the content of the archive and how members can access it.

The second page, Anniversaries, contains extracts from the society's proceedings for 150 and 125 years ago, and will eventually be extended to cover years at 25 year intervals until 25 years ago. The extract from 150 years ago was published on March 22 1866, 150 years to the day before the publication of this news item. One of the items in the extract is the report of a paper on climate change read on behalf of James Croll, whose picture accompanies this article.

The third page is devoted to James Croll, a Scottish geologist who published an astronomical theory of climate change in 1864, 60 years before the more famous Milutin Milankovitch published his very similar theory. Croll held the post of janitor at the Andersonian College and Museum in Glasgow from 1859 until 1867, after which he joined the British Geological Survey. The James Croll page contains a biographical notice from "History of the Geological Society of Glasgow, 1858 – 1908" and also the text of the paper presented in 1866.

The fourth page is devoted to Arthur Holmes, an eminent English geologist of the 20th century, who, like Croll, was a man ahead of his time. Influenced by Wegener's hypothesis of continental drift, he developed a model that explained how mantle convection could lead to the breaking up of continents. In an eerie echo of the Croll-Milankovitch scenario, this model was very similar to the concept of seafloor spreading developed 35 years later in the 1960s as part of the theory of plate tectonics. Holmes first presented his ideas on mantle convection to the Geological Society of Glasgow in January 1928, and the Arthur Holmes page contains a summary of his lecture, taken from the original account in the society's minute book.

The archive material in the new section has been prepared by the society's former archivist, Seonaid Leishman (Arthur Holmes page) and the present archivist Margaret Anderson. We are grateful to them for their work, and look forward to many riches to come.

Bill Gray