Logan, William Edmond (1798-1875), a Canadian geologist, gained fame for his pioneering work researching coal, glacial action, early fossil evidence of life, and ancient rocks.
William Edmond Logan was born in Montreal, Canada, on April 20, 1798. He went to high school in Edinburgh, Scotland, and studied medicine for one year at the Edinburgh University in Scotland. He then worked 10 years in business for his uncle.
In 1831, Logan became a manager for a copper smelting company in Swansea, the second largest city in Wales. There he became interested in geology and, during much of the 1830's, he studied coal deposits in Wales. He made a map of the coal basin that was incorporated into the Geological Survey of Great Britain.
Logan then returned to Canada to continue his research. In 1842, he became the first director of the newly formed Geological Survey of Canada, a federal agency that conducts geological studies of public lands. He retained that post until 1869, studying the coal fields of the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well as the copper-bearing rocks of the Lake Superior region.
In 1841, Logan discovered animal tracks at Horton Bluff, Nova Scotia, providing the first demonstration of the existence of vertebrate animals in the Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era. The Paleozoic, one of three major periods in the earth's history, lasted from about 570 million to 240 million years ago. The Carboniferous Period lasted from about 360 to 330 million years ago.
Logan was knighted in 1856. He established the Geological Survey of Canada Museum in Montreal in 1857 to display his collection of geological specimens. In 1927, it was renamed the National Museum of Canada. His most important book was A Report on the Geology of Canada (1863). Logan died on June 22, 1875, in Wales.