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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/June 1897/World's Geologists at St. Petersburg

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 51‎ | June 1897


THE Fifth International Geological Congress at Washington received an invitation from the Russian government to hold its seventh session in St. Petersburg. The Sixth Congress at Zürich accepted the invitation. By unanimous vote, A. Karpinsky. Director of the Committee of Geologists of Russia, was elected president of the Bureau of Organization; A. Inostranzew, vice-president; Th. Tschernyschew and N. Androussow, secretaries.

His Majesty the Czar will open the Seventh International Congress at St. Petersburg on August 17th, and welcome the visiting delegates to his empire. The Grand Duke Constantinovitch will act as Honorary President. Prof. Karpinsky will doubtless be made President of the congress. Circulars of information in French have been received by geologists, outlining the occupations of the delegates, so far as the Russians can arrange for their pleasure. The sessions will last seven days, preceded and succeeded by intervals of geological and sight-seeing excursions, covering the principal areas of Russia.

In many respects this will be the most important of the congresses so far held. The geological map of Europe, which will probably be printed complete in two years, will be exhibited. Segments of this map have already been received by geologists, and will probably have their hearty approval at the congress. The committee on geological nomenclature will doubtless make a fair showing, although beset by many difficulties in harmonizing the views of members. A difference of opinion of grave proportions, which has threatened the life of past congresses, concerns the probable culmination of previous attempts of geologists to get the control PSM V51 D223 The grand duke constantinovitch of russia.pngThe Grand Duke Constantinovitch, President of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and Honorary President of the Congress. of the organization out of the hands of officials of the scientific bureaus of various governments. The excursions laid out certainly cover a vast territory, including the Ural Mountains, Moscow, Volga River region. Samara to Kazan, the glacial formations of Esthonia, Finland, basin of the Donetz, mineral waters of Vladikavkaz, Nijni-Novgorod, Kiew, Dnieper River, to Tifiis and glaciers by military route of Georgia, Tifiis to Baku, Batoum, and Kertch, all parts of the Crimea, Sebastopol, southern Russian mining region, to the glacier Guenaldon at Piatigorsk. Lake Gokhtcha, Mount Ararat, etc.

The International Geological Congress was conceived by the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the Buffalo meeting, 1876, when a resolution was adopted, calling for such a congress to be held in Paris in 1878. The committee comprised W. B. Rogers, Dr. James Hall, J. W. Dawson, the late Dr. J. S. Newberry, the late Dr. T. Sterry Hunt, C. H. Hitchcock, R. Pumpelly, of America; the late Prof. T. H. Huxley, Dr. Otto Torrell, and E. H. van Baumhaur, of Europe. Dr. Hall was made chairman of the committee and Dr. Hunt secretary. Their labors resulted in the first international congress being held in Paris in 1888. The second congress was held in Bologna, the third in Berlin, the fourth in London, the fifth in Washington, and the sixth in Zürich, at intervals of three years.

The geological map of Europe was conceived at the congress of Bologna, where it was determined that the methods of accomplishing the ends of unification in nomenclature and coloring had become sufficiently understood. It was thought best to select PSM V51 D224 Alexander Karpinsky.pngProf. A. Karpinsky, Director of the Imperial Geological Survey and President of the Bureau of Organization of the Congress. Europe as the subject of the map because it contained a great area, practically well known, the largest number of geologists, and included the greatest number of cartographical difficulties. Containing the largest number of geologists, representing many nationalities, it was conceded that any map which could pass their acceptance would stand any test of criticism elsewhere. The inherent puzzles of structure in Europe furnished a fascinating series of difficult problems for solution, long and zealously discussed, with both natural and artificial intricacies. No better area to test the patience and tax the genius of the congress could have been chosen. The committee appointed to prepare the map comprised Messrs. Beyrich and Hauchecorne, of Germany, with power of direction at Berlin; Prof. Renevier, of Switzerland, as general secretary; PSM V51 D224 James Hall.pngDr. James Hall, New York State Geologist. Messrs. Daubrée, of France; Giordano, of Italy; A. Karpinsky, of Russia; Mojsisovics, of Austria-Hungary; and Topley, of Great Britain. Professors Daubrée, Giordano, and Topley have since died. The scale of the map is one in one million and a half. It is divided into forty-nine sheets of 18·89 by 20·86 inches. These sheets, when all are completed, will form a rectangle 11·04 feet high by 12·17 feet wide. The topographic base was prepared by Prof. Kiepert, of Berlin. D. Reimer & Co., Berlin, are the PSM V51 D225 Persifor Frazer.pngProf. Persifor Frazer, Philadelphia Academy of Sciences. publishers at their own risk. The price of the work was fixed at 125 francs ($25). The various national committees subscribed and paid the publishers for nine hundred copies at the rate of 100 francs each. The map represents the completest and most accurate geological information obtainable, and every step in its progress has been carefully taken, so that the result forms a consensus of European opinion.

At the last congress at Zürich, Switzerland, two propositions were submitted by Dr. Persifor Frazer, and the bureau was ordered to report on them at St. Petersburg, as follows:

"1. To what extent does the congress recognize the right of governmental bureaus as such, PSM V51 D225 Edward Drinker Cope.pngThe Late Prof. E. D. Cope, University of Pennsylvania. or of any kind of organizations, to send representatives to the congress?

"2. Within what limitations does the congress recognize the right of such representatives, or of only a portion of the members of the congress coming from the same country, to choose who shall be the vice-president representing their country, or to take any other steps in the name of their country without consultation of all of their countrymen, members of the congress?"

In these propositions is said to lie the future of international geological congresses. If government officials are alone to represent PSM V51 D226 Charles Doolittle Walcott.pngProf. C. D. Walcott, Director, United States Geological Survey. countries and hold office, the congress at St. Petersburg may be the last. Formerly the officers of geological surveys of nations fought the establishment of the congress. The congresses once established, the bureaucrats changed front, got hold of the machinery through their representatives, and now mostly control it. At St. Petersburg the unofficial geologists of the world will try to wrest the direction from the members of geological surveys. At Zürich, for instance, there were present thirteen of the most distinguished PSM V51 D226 John James Stevenson geologist.pngProf. J. J. Stevenson, University of New York, President New York Academy of Sciences. Two salaried assistants of the United States Geological Survey were declared by the Swiss council alone eligible and representative, and were made vice-president and delegate from the United States, At present too many members of government bureaus comprise the official roster of the congress, although the congress itself is composed of several hundred of the most distinguished geologists of the world, who, if not members of a geological survey, are ignored by those now in control. This is a situation which does not commend itself to scientific men, many of whom occupy chairs in great universities or eminent positions as specialists. These men think the abuse has become a flagrant one. PSM V51 D227 Charles Henry Hitchcock.pngProf. C. H. Hitchcock, Dartmouth College. If there is an object for the congress to accomplish, it is to open its doors and honors equally to all geologists. It is thought that if the congress decides that only bureau employees enjoy exclusive privileges and alone constitute the personnel of the permanent organization, which keeps the organization alive in session and out, then the body has simply become a medium of officialism, a governments' trust, and should be disbanded. As a trust, it will simply continue to extenuate errors and preserve the power of government survey directors. The independent geologists think the congress has been perverted and diverted from its original high purpose, and that the time has come to rescue it. PSM V51 D227 Benjamin Kendall Emerson.pngProf. B. K. Emerson, Amherst College. They desire it to be the highest tribunal of appeal on purely scientific matters.

The protesting Americans are led by Dr. Persifor Frazer, of Philadelphia, who is an able linguist and parliamentarian. He will represent the American Philosophical Society, the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, and the editorial staff of the American Geologist. Prof. Giovanni Capellini (Italy), who recently received the Hayden medal and who will probably be decorated by the Czar at this congress, thinks the battle against officialism already won. In a recent letter he states: "The committee of organization has the good PSM V51 D228 William North Rice.pngProf. William N. Rice, Wesleyan University. intention of returning the congress to the right path, in conformity with the object of its institution, having recognized that it has been entirely deflected from its path in Switzerland." While the committee's "intentions" may be good, it will require something more powerful to break down officialism and restore the chair of a university to its equality with a membership of a government bureau.

Two international committees have been at work for some years to secure a uniform nomenclature and coloration in European geological science. At each session of the congress the intervening work of these PSM V51 D228 Newton Horace Winchell.pngProf. N. H. Winchell, University of Minnesota, State Geologist. committees has been adopted, clause by clause. Whenever unsettled questions were announced they were either adjourned to subsequent sessions, or discretion was granted to the committees to mature their own plans. The committees have been remarkably successful, and no attempt has been made by them to force their conclusions on the congresses or introduce into the discussions the narrow partisanship of particular schools. Among the men who have been active in the unification of coloration are Profs. Zittel and Hauchecorne, of Germany; Prof. Thomas McKenny Hughes, of England; Prof. Delwalque, of Belgium; Prof, de Lapparent, of France; Prof. J. Szabó, of Hungary; Profs. Delgado, Choffat, Bensaude, Goncalves, and de Lima, of Portugal; Prof. Stefanescu, of Roumania; Prof. Mayer-Eymar, of Switzerland; Profs. Capellini and de Zigno, of Italy; Prof. Nikitin, of Russia; Prof. Stur, of Austria; Prof. Vilanova, of Spain; Prof. Johnstrup, of Denmark; Prof. Kjerulf, of Norway; Prof, van Calker, of Holland; and Prof. Torrell, of Sweden.

The committee on the unification of the nomenclature of rocks comprises Knop, Zirkel, and Rosenbusch, of Germany; Golliez, PSM V51 D229 Eugene Allen Smith.pngProf. Eugene A. Smith, University of Alabama, State Geologist. Hutenmal, and Schmidt, of Switzerland; Renard and de la Vallée Poussin, of Belgium; Behrens and Wichmann, of Holland; Macpherson and Gonzalo y Farin, of Spain; Bensaude, of Portugal; Michel-Levy, Barrois, and La Croix, of France; Teall, Geikie, and Judd, of England; Brögger, of Norway; Zujovis, of Roumania; Löwinson-Lessing, of Russia; Tietze and Tschermak, of Austria-Hungary; J. P. Iddings,Whitman Cross, and C. R. Van Hise, of the United States; and Barcena, of Mexico.

A committee will report on an exhaustive study of the changes which occur in glaciers, for which Prince Roland Bonaparte is chairman and pays the cost. It is composed as follows: Richter, of Austria; Fintswalder, of Germany; Reid, of the United States; Bonaparte, of France; Hall, of England; and Forel, of Switzerland.

The original American committee of the International Congresses has been somewhat decimated by death. It comprised Prof. James Hall, chairman, Albany; Dr. Persifor Frazer, secretary, Philadelphia; the late Dr. J. S. Newberry, New York; the late Dr. T. Sterry Hunt, Montreal; Prof. C. H. Hitchcock, Hanover, N. H.; Prof. Raphael Pumpelly, Newport; Prof. H. S. Williams, Yale; Prof. J. P. Lesley, Philadelphia; Major J. W. Powell, Washington; the late Prof. G. H. Cook, Brunswick, N. J.; Prof, J. J. Stevenson, New York; the late Prof. E. D. Cope, Philadelphia; Prof. Eugene A. Smith, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Prof. N. H. Winchell, Minneapolis; and the late Prof. James D. Dana, New Haven. Most of those above living will be present at St. Petersburg, PSM V51 D230 Henry Shaler Williams.pngProf. H. S. Williams, Yale College. and are nearly all opposed to the control of the congress by bureaucrats. Through the efforts of the former personnel of the United States Geological Survey, the American committee was abolished at the Indianapolis meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where the survey staff got temporary control. At the last meeting of the Association, at Buffalo, the following delegates were appointed to St. Petersburg: Prof. James Hall, Albany; the late Prof. E. D. Cope, Philadelphia; Prof. B. K. Emerson, Amherst; Prof. C. D. Walcott, Washington; and Prof. W. N. Rice, Middletown. These delegates will soon be made a new American committee, and their number materially increased in the near future. The delegates of the Geological Society of America will comprise Prof. J. J. Stevenson, New York University; Prof. B. K. Emerson, Amherst College; and Prof. I. C. White, Morgantown, W. Va.

All objects for exhibition bearing the address "Russia, St. Petersburg Exposition of the International Geological Congress," can go through without having to be submitted to customs inspection at the frontier. Russian consuls everywhere have been instructed to visé passports of geologists presenting membership cards, which will also facilitate matters at the frontier. Members will receive a ticket of first-class transportation on all Russian and Finland railways. The sessions of the congress will be held at the Imperial Academy of Sciences.

Accompanying this article is a copy of the official map of the excursions offered to geologists by the Russian Government, which has made great sacrifices to entertain its guests. Over six hundred membership cards have been issued, in consequence of which the committee has decided to exclude from the excursions all who are not authors of geological publications. It is estimated that the restriction will reduce the number of excursionists to about two hundred people. The cost of the excursions, reduced to the mere maintenance of individuals, has been fixed

PSM V51 D231 Itinerary map of the seventh international geological congress 1897.png

approximately as follows: To the Urals, four hundred francs; in Esthonia, one hundred and thirty-five francs; to Finland, fifty francs; the great excursion after the congress, six hundred and sixty-five francs; to Ararat, two hundred and seventy francs; to the glacier Mamisson, one hundred and twenty francs; to Elborous or Sebastopol, forty francs additional to general excursion. Each of the smaller and special excursions have a price established, estimated at twenty-one francs per day. The committee will refund any overcharges made. These magnanimous reductions in the cost of travel are due to the personal efforts of A. Yermolow, Minister of Agriculture, to the proprietors and administrations of the districts having works, and to the officers of municipalities along the routes of the excursions.