Murchison Roderick Impe Sir

(19.02.1792 – 22.10.1871)


A British geologist and traveler who first described and investigated the Silurian, Devonian, and Permian geological periods.

Born in Terradale, Scotland.

Attended high school in Durham, then military college in Great Marlow to prepare for the army.

In 1808 he landed with Wellington in Galicia and participated in the battles of Rolis and Vimeiro. Then, under the command of Sir John Moore, he took part in the retreat to La Coruña and the final battle.

In 1815  after eight years of service, he retired and married Charlotte Hugonin, daughter of General Hugonin from Narsted House, Hampshire. They spent two years in continental Europe, mainly in Italy.

In 1818 they settled in England, and Murchison met Humphry Davy, who persuaded him to turn his energy to science. He was fascinated by the young science of geology. He joined the London Geological Society and soon showed himself to be one of its most active members. His colleagues included Adam Sedgwick, William Coniber, William Buckland, William Fitton and Charles Lyell. Investigating with his wife the geology of southern England, he paid special attention to the rocks of Sussex north-west and surrounding parts of Hampshire and Surrey, about which, with the help of Fitton He wrote his first scientific work presented to society in 1825. Drawing attention to the geology of the continent, he and Lyell explored the volcanic region of Auvergne, parts of southern France, northern Italy, Tyrol and Switzerland. Some time later, in collaboration with Sedgwick, he began to study the geological structure of the Alps, and their joint article on the results of these studies became a classic among the literature on the geology of the Alps.

In 1835  based on the study of minerals on the border of England and Wales, he singled out an independent period - the Silurian.

In 1839  together with A. Sedgwick, he singled out a new geological system - the Devonian period.

Murchison traveled to the Russian Empire three times.

Already in the first third of the XIX century  it became obvious that the country's economic needs and defense interests require new, detailed geological surveys from scientists throughout its territory.

To carry out such work in 1840, Marchison was invited to Russia from England.

Collecting the material necessary for research, he and his group over the next four years traveled almost the entire territory of the European part of our country.

In the period from the autumn of 1840 to the beginning of the next spring, the British traveled almost all of the Perm region and the foothills of the Urals. Having collected a rich collection of local rocks, Murchison determined their age - about 300 million years. These deposits turned out to be younger than the Silurian and Devonian deposits, and the scientist decided to name the new geological system of Perm, after the province where he made this discovery. Under this name, the geological epoch and entered into scientific use.

After returning to England, Roderick Murchison was elected President of the Royal Geographical Societies in London. In addition, in 1855 he was appointed Director General of the United Kingdom Geological Survey and Director of the London Museum of Practical Geology. Subsequently, the post of director of the Royal Mining School was added to these posts. Merchison also established the Department of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Edinburgh. In all these posts, he remained until the end of his days.

For scientific achievements he received many distinctions and honors. Roderick Murchison was a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, a member of the French Institute, a doctor of honoris causa of Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge universities, a member of a huge number of scientific societies in Europe and America.For his merits in 1846 he was initiated into knighthood, and in 1866 received a baronet.

Died in London, buried in the Brompton cemetery.


Memorial stone. School number 9 (Perm)


After his death  the Geological Society established the Murchison Foundation and a medal annually awarded for outstanding work in the field of geology. The extinct genus of gastropods Murchisonia, widespread in Devonian and Carboniferous sediments, and the mineral Marchonite (a type of orthoclase) are named after Murchison.

In honor of Roderick Murchison, at least 15 geographical features on Earth and a crater on the Moon are named.

In Perm, discussed the idea of installing a column or arch name. As a result, on November 3, 2005  the administration and students of School No. 9 installed a memorial sign dedicated to the geologist who singled out the Paleozoic Permian period. It is a boulder about 2 m long with a sign on it with the inscription: “Roderick Impey Murchison (R.I. Murchison), a Scottish geologist, a researcher of the Perm region who called the last period of the Paleozoic era PERM (perm)”.

Cape in the east of Geer's Land, West Spitsbergen Island. The coordinates are 77° 49.8'N   18° 25.5'E.

Bay on the west coast of the island of Northeastern Land, Svalbard. The coordinates are 80° 00'N   18° 00'E.


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