geography

George W. De Long and the ill-fated Jeannette Polar Expedition

George W. De Long and the ill-fated Jeannette Polar Expedition

On August 22, 1844, United States Navy officer and explorer George Washington De Long was born. De Long led the ill-fated Jeannette Expedition in search of the Open Polar Sea. The expedition tried to reach the North Pole by pioneering a route from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait. The premise was that a temperate current, the Kuro Siwo, flowed northwards into the strait, providing a gateway to an Open Polar…
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Juan Sebastián Elcano and the First Circumnavigation of the Earth

Juan Sebastián Elcano and the First Circumnavigation of the Earth

On August 4, 1526, Spanish explorer of Basque origin Juan Sebastián Elcano passed away. Elcano was part of the Spanish expedition commanded by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who set sail for the first successful circumnavigation of the Earth. After Magellan‘s death in the Philippines, Elcano took command of the nau Victoria from the Moluccas to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain. Signing up on Magellan’s East India Expedition Juan Sebastián Elcano was…
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Charles Wyville Thomson and the Challenger Expedition

Charles Wyville Thomson and the Challenger Expedition

On March 5, 1830, Scottish natural historian and marine zoologist Charles Wyville Thomson was born. Thomson served as the chief scientist on the famous Challenger expedition surveying and exploring the oceans for more than 130.000 km between 1872 and 1876. Thomson‘s work there revolutionized oceanography. Charles Wyville Thomson – Early Life Thomson was born at Bonsyde, in Linlithgow, West Lothian, the son of Andrew Thomson, a surgeon in the service of the…
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Édouard-Gaston Deville and the Perfection of Photogrammetry

Édouard-Gaston Deville and the Perfection of Photogrammetry

On February 21, 1849, French-Canadian surveyor Édouard-Gaston Deville was born. Deville perfected the first practical method of photogrammetry, the making of maps based on photography. Édouard-Gaston Deville – Becoming a Surveyor Édouard-Gaston Deville was born at La Charité sur Noire, Nièvre, France. Educated at the naval school at Brest, Deville served in the French navy and conducted hydrographic surveys in the South Sea islands and Peru. In 1875, he retired and immigrated to Quebec with his widowed mother…
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The Origins of the Greenwich Prime Meridian

The Origins of the Greenwich Prime Meridian

On October 13, 1884, Greenwich was adopted as the universal meridian, dividing the Earth into the Eastern and the Western hemisphere. At the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., 22 countries voted to adopt the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. The French argued for a neutral line, mentioning the Azores and the Bering Strait but eventually abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911. The British Meridian Before…
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Robert S. Dietz and the Seafloor Spreading

Robert S. Dietz and the Seafloor Spreading

On September 14, 1914, US marine geologist, geophysicist and oceanographer Robert Sinclair Dietz was born. He is best known for his pioneering research along with Harry Hammond Hess concerning seafloor spreading (a term he coined), in which new crustal material continually upwells from the Earth’s depths along the mid-ocean ridges and spreads outward at a rate of several inches per year. Robert Dietz – Education Robert Dietz was educated at the University…
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John Speed and his Atlas of the British Isles

John Speed and his Atlas of the British Isles

On July 28, 1629, English cartographer and historian John Speed passed away. He is considered the most famous of English map-makers. His best-known work is a landmark: the first atlas of the British Isles, the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (1612), which was reprinted for well over a century after his death. Framed productions of maps from his atlas remain popular to hang in homes. John Speed – “An Ambitious,…
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Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Oceanography

Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Oceanography

On January 14, 1806, American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator Matthew Fontaine Maury was born. He is often referred to as Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology, due to the publication of his extensive works in his books, especially The Physical Geography of the Sea (1855), the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography to be published. Maury made many important new contributions to charting winds and…
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The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

On December 9, 1508, physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker Gemma Frisius was born. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation. Gemma Frisius – Youth and Education Gemma Frisius was born Jemma Reinierzoon in Dokkum, Friesland, a coastal province in northern Netherlands, of poor parents who died when he was young. His nom de plume Gemma Frisius is a…
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James Hutton – the Father of Modern Geology

James Hutton – the Father of Modern Geology

On June 3, 1726, Scottish geologist, physician, chemical manufacturer, naturalist, and experimental agriculturalist James Hutton was born. He originated the theory of uniformitarianism, a fundamental principle of geology, which explains the features of the Earth’s crust by means of natural processes over geologic time. Hutton’s work established geology as a proper science, and thus he is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Geology“. “The past history of our globe must be explained…
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