Article ID: CBB161732227

On 're-treading' early geological fieldwork (2022)


The method of ‘re-treading’ the fieldwork of past geologists is analogous to the method of ‘re-staging’ historically significant laboratory experiments. Neither provides any short cut to scientific or historical truth, nor grounds for celebrating or condemning the work of past scientists. Yet both can yield valuable insights into those scientists’ on-the-spot thinking, their reasoning and their eventual presentation of their conclusions. As a historical research method, the ‘re-treading’ of fieldwork has been relatively neglected, although it has many parallels with more traditional methods centred on the analysis of texts and their accompanying images. This paper summarises a few examples of ‘retreading’, drawn from the author’s published research on fieldwork by European geologists in the decades around 1800; but the methods described here can be, and deserve to be, adopted much more widely.

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Authors & Contributors
Gohau, Gabriel
Luzzini, Francesco
Bartholomew, Michael
Stoddart, D. R.
Laurent, Goulven
Rudwick, Martin J.S.
British Journal for the History of Science
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Natura Alpina, Rivista della Società di Scienze Naturali del Trentino
Sciences et Techniques en Perspective
Comptes Rendus Biologies
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Ashgate Publishing
Harvard University Press
Princeton University
Edizioni CLORI
Earth sciences
Travel; exploration
Field work
Mines and mining
Lyell, Charles
Darwin, Charles Robert
Murchison, Roderick Impey
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Scrope, George Poullett
Buch, Leopold von
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
17th century
20th century
Naples (Italy)
Alps (Europe)
Galapagos Islands

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