This fine-looking fellow is British 19th Century geologist Adam Sedgwick.
He is considered one of the founders of modern geology, and worked during the ‘Heroic Age’ of Earth Science, when most geological periods were defined. Sedgwick himself proposed the Devonian and Cambrian periods, representing rock deposited 416 – 360 and 360 – 300 million years ago respectively.
This alone may strike you as unimpressive – though for geologists it’s sort of a big deal – but consider this! Sedgwick was also the first to distinguish between stratification (layered structures related to bedding of rock), jointing (static fractures in bodies of rock) and slaty cleavage (yes, cleavage is a valid geological term). In some cases these can be incredibly difficult for an amateur geologist to identify.
Still not impressed? How about the fact that Sedgwick taught Charles Darwin during his time at Cambridge University, England in the 1830s? Darwin was an assistant on a trip to Wales, during which Sedgwick first proposed the Cambrian as a distinct period.
Sedgwick has given his name to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge, as well as the Sedgwick Prize, given to Cambridge University’s best geology undergraduates.
He remains to this day one of the most important Earth Scientists in the history of the field, both for his own work and his encouragement of his students.
‘I cannot promise to teach you all geology; I can only fire your imaginations.’