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Forbes, David

FORBES, DAVID (1828-1876), British mineralogist, metallurgist and chemist, brother of Edward Forbes (q.v.), was born on the 6th of September 1828, at Douglas, Isle of Man, and received his early education there and at Brentwood in Essex. When a boy of fourteen he had already acquired a remarkable knowledge of chemistry. This subject he studied at the university of Edinburgh, and he was still young when he was appointed superintendent of the mining and metallurgical works at Espedal in Norway. Subsequently he became a partner in the firm of Evans & Askin, nickel-smelters, of Birmingham, and in that capacity during the years 1857-1860 he visited Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Besides reports for the Iron and Steel Institute, of which, during the last years of his life, he was foreign secretary, he wrote upwards of 50 papers on scientific subjects, among which are the following: "The Action of Sulphurets on Metallic Silicates at High Temperatures," Rep. Brit. Assoc., 1855, pt. ii. p. 62; "The Relations of the Silurian and Metamorphic Rocks of the south of Norway," ib. p. 82; "The Causes producing Foliation in Rocks," Journ. Geol. Soc. xi., 1855; "The Chemical Composition of the Silurian and Cambrian Limestones," Phil. Mag. xiii. pp. 365-373, 1857; "The Geology of Bolivia and Southern Peru," Journ. Geol. Soc. xvii. pp. 7-62, 1861; "The Mineralogy of Chile," Phil. Mag., 1865; "Researches in British Mineralogy," Phil. Mag., 1867-1868. His observations on the geology of South America were given in a masterly essay, and these and subsequent researches threw much light on igneous and metamorphic phenomena and on the resulting changes in rock-formations. He also contributed important articles on chemical geology to the Chemical News and Geological Magazine (1867 and 1868). In England he was a pioneer in microscopic petrology. He was elected F.R.S. in 1858. He died in London on the 5th of December 1876.

See Obituary by P.M. Duncan in Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc., vol. xxxiii., 1877, p. 41; and by J. Morris in Geol. Mag., 1877, p. 45.

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

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