4.10 Phillips 1869

John Phillips, Vesuvius, Oxford 1869

Be 4015-4690 raro III

A professor of geology in London, Dublin and Oxford, curator of the Yorkshire Museum and of the Ashmolean Museum, John Phillips (1800-1874) also headed some of Britain’s most prestigious scientific institutions. Through his research into fossils he developed the first geological timescale diagram, helping to define the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic eras. Vesuvius represents the culmination of a lifetime of studies, the result of a year spent in Naples in 1868 with his colleague John Edward Lee, observing the Neapolitan volcano in activity and fruitfully comparing notes with Guiscardi, Palmieri and Scacchi. The substantial volume is dedicated to the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts, who set up two scholarships for geology at Oxford University, and is a publication primarily intended for students. An initial historical section on the eruptive activity of Vesuvius (with reference to the sources, some of which are also given in the appendix) is followed by observations made in situ in 1868, and finally by a theoretical interpretation that places volcanic activity in a universal geological perspective. The comparative analysis ranges from the Campi Flegrei to Etna and other European volcanoes (Iceland). The volume is accompanied by 11 plates outside the text and 35 diagrams: the images – woodcuts and lithographs – are copied from other authors (Della Torre, Hamilton, Necker, Guiscardi) or taken from original sketches by Phillips and Lee. [ES]

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