Thomas Sopwith’s Stratigraphic Models

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-XI – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

First produced in 1841 Thomas Sopwith’s wooden models were some of the earliest three-dimensional representations of Earth’s geological strata. Layered, glued, hand carved and polished, his models demonstrate the abilities of a skilled woodworker and isometricist. Sopwith began his apprenticeship as a cabinet maker and so his interests in carpentry and geology collude to create functional objects with sculptural qualities in their own right. Rather than represent specific locations the models were generic visualisations of typical stratigraphy found in the mining districts of England in the early 1800’s. Some of the models could be could reconfigured, like small puzzles, so that subterranean features such as dislocations, inclines and folds could be viewed from different angles reducing the need for multiple drawings.

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-X – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

In reality the layering of strata can be a messy business. Often, as an affront to the the law of superposition and general common sense, much older rocks can be found layered above younger ones. These anarchic non-conformist strata present themselves in, what’s known in the business, as thrust faults. Other chronological discontinuities, generated through folding and erosion, complicate things further. The book of stratigraphy is a cut-up novel containing a narrative of cryptic topographies – pages have been ripped out, shuffled, and replaced inside the wrong chapters. Since Sopwith’s models many great breakthroughs in geological cryptanalysis have been made. The grand theories of continental drift and plate tectonics allowed geologists to unravel the puzzle in order to understand how these layers of rock came to be so disordered as if to imply, at times, that the earth’s crust might have been created with time running backwards.

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-VII – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-VI – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-IV – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-II – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-VI – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-V – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-VII – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-IV – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-IV – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-V – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-VI – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-IV – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Models Illustrating Denuded Strata- Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Thomas Sopwith – geological models Model-II – Thomas Sopwith [1841]

Related Posts:

Agates – Time Compiled
The Writing of Stones – Roger Caillois
Where Time Becomes Nervous: John Mcphee’s Annals of the Former World
Hypogean Wildstyle: Dominik Strzelec’s Byzantine Geology

 

2 Responses to “Thomas Sopwith’s Stratigraphic Models”

  1. Whewell’s Gazette: Year 2, Vol. #02 | Whewell's Ghost writes:

    […] Data is Science: Thomas Sopwith’s Stratigraphic Models […]

  2. Whewell’s Gazette: Year 2, Vol. #26 | Whewell's Ghost writes:

    […] Data is nature: Thomas Sopwith’s Stratigraphic Models […]

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