Geology Reference
In-Depth Information
enough to squeeze up folded mountains against nothing at all'.
Admittedly, it was a di~cult problem to explain, but Holmes
had given it much thought over many years. One of his
colleagues while at Imperial College, and with whom he became
very friendly, was John William Evans, a remarkable man who,
in 1914, was appointed as a demonstrator in the geology depart-
ment at the advanced age of fifty-seven. Despite being educated
in a legal career and called to the bar in 1878, Evans had
succumbed to the attractions of geology and had gone on to
study it at the Royal College of Science. Following many years
of geological adventures in the remote parts of Brazil, India and
Bolivia, he returned to his old college at the outbreak of war,
being too old to be called up. A complete eccentric in the true
British sense, he lectured in an overcoat with the collar turned
up, a woollen scarf around his neck and a black Homburg hat
perched precariously on his hairless head. The archetypal
absent-minded professor, he spent hours looking for mislaid
objects and was never seen without several dictionaries and
grammars of various languages under his arm, available for
study at odd moments in buses or trains. He was a man of
extraordinary wide interests and according to P. G. H. Boswell,
the geology professor who succeeded Watts, Evans was closer
to a genius than any other geologist he had ever met.
The subject of continental drift was dear to Evans' heart.
Fluent in several languages, he had been able to read Wegener
in the original German and became an early convert to his
theories. Having a great respect for Holmes and his work on
radioactivity, he undoubtedly discussed with Holmes the merits
and flaws of continental drift long before Wegener's translation
into English, to which Evans wrote the foreword. Tossing
backwards and forwards ideas for a mechanism that could drive
the continents through the crust, Holmes had become steeped
in the controversy long before he went to Burma. When he came
back the third edition of Wegener's book had just become
available in English so, by the Ardnamurchan meeting almost
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