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Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey

system silurian based permian

(1792–1871) British geologist: first identified the Silurian, Devonian and Permian periods.

Murchison entered the army at 15, served briefly in the Peninsular War and then married and settled near Durham to follow his interest in foxhunting. At 32 he became friendly with and his enthusiasm moved to science and particularly to geology, where he had a flair for stratigraphy. He made a series of arduous geological field explorations, at times with , and in 1839 he produced his major book The Silurian System , based on his study of the greywackes of South Wales. With Sedgwick he established the Devonian system in southwest England, and an expedition to Russia in 1841 led him to define another world-wide system, the Permian, based on rock stratification in the Perm area.

After about 1840 he became arrogant and intolerant, and in disputes with Sedgwick and others he treated the Silurian as personal property. He was always totally opposed to theory of evolution. In 1855 he succeeded as director-general of the Geological Survey.

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