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Atherstone, William Guybon

ATHERSTONE, WILLIAM GUYBON (1813-1898), British geologist, one of the pioneers in South African geology, was born in 1813, in the district of Uitenhage, Cape Colony. Having qualified as M.D. he settled in early life as a medical practitioner at Grahamstown, subsequently becoming F.R.C.S. In 1839 his interest was aroused in geology, and from that date he "devoted the leisure of a long and successful medical practice" to the pursuit of geological science. In 1857 he published an account of the rocks and fossils of Uitenhage (the latter described more fully by R. Tate, Quart. Journal Geol. Soc., 1867). He also obtained many fossil reptilia from the Karroo beds, and presented specimens to the British Museum. These were described by Sir Richard Owen. Atherstone's identification in 1867 as a diamond of a crystal found at De Kalk near the junction of the Riet and Vaal rivers, led indirectly to the establishment of the great diamond industry of South Africa. He encouraged the workings at Jagersfontein, and he also called attention to the diamantiferous neck at Kimberley. He was one of the founders of the Geological Society of South Africa at Johannesburg in 1895; and for some years previously he was a member of the Cape parliament. He died at Grahamstown, on the 26th of June 1898.

See the obituary by T. Rupert Jones, Natural Science, vol. xiv. (January 1899).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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