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About Virtual Landscapes of Texas

One hundred and fifty years ago, Texans were wrestling with big problems – energy, water, public safety, transportation, and economic development. Today these issues are as pressing as ever and new technologies allow us to look back at an earlier era to see how our predecessors addressed these vital issues in their own time.

This suite of public domain documents was selected as a foundation to preserve and to widen access to early writings on the geology of Texas.  It encompasses samples of the works of many of the early geologic explorers and interpreters of Texas, and to this core we intend to continue adding both primary documents and historical reviews of early Texas geologic study.  These works are important both politically and scientifically, and we hope they will bring to life part of the history of Texas that has been previously available only to those with access to research library collections.

These documents have been made available through the combined efforts and funding of the TX Treasures program of the Texas State Library, the University of Texas Libraries Digital Collections Services. As well as the, Walter Fund and the Library Support Fund of the UT Geology Foundation.

We thank them for their generosity and support.

The photographs used here are used with permission of Jim Bones. For information on Jim Bones’ photographs, or for any questions about the purchase or licensing of his work, contact him directly:

Rights statements
Materials presented on this site are either copyright permitted, or public domain. In addition to the appropriate bibliographic citation, acknowledgment for use of the online editions should credit the University of Texas Libraries.


If you have questions or comments on the site, please direct them to the Walter Geology Library

Dennis Trombatore
Walter Geology Library
The University of Texas Libraries

Searching Tips

The index contains the full text and associated metadata of over 60,000+ printed pages
from which the Virtual Landscapes Collection is derived.   Author, title, series title,
alternative title, publisher, series title, date and subject information for each
publication is also indexed to aid in discovery and display.

1.Type all the keywords in the search box. Results are sorted by a ranking of relevancy --
documents where your keywords appear as words in the metadata fields (see above) as well as in the page text will display towards the top of your results while documents where your keywords appear only in the text will rank lower.

2. There is no need to use AND or OR because the search algorithm does it for you.

3. Do not use quotes for the same reason as above.

4. Refrain from searching on "geology" or "texas" because these words as associated with
essentially every document in the collection.

5. For fielded search on title or author, use the following syntax:


Thanks go to the many individuals who have contributed to the effort to digitize these materials, and to rebuild the site to make it more attractive and useful. UT Library staff involved include (but are not limited to): Aaron Choate, Jennifer Lee, Wendy Martin, Jade Anderson, Steven Williams, Calla Smith-Dowling, Matthew Villalobos, Benn Chang, Uri Kolodney, Minnie Rangel, Fred Gilmore, Audrey Templeton, Joey Marez, and many (many) I-School GRA’s and student interns. Thanks to everyone for your dedication and good work!

Very special thanks to Jim Bones for permission to use his spectacular photographs of Texas on our newly revised website. Jim has produced or contributed to a number of books of photography, specializing in West Texas, including:
Rio Grande : mountains to the sea : photographs. Austin, Tex. : Texas Monthly Press, c1985.
Texas earth surfaces; a photographic study. Austin, Encino Press, 1970.
Texas heartland : a hill country year / photos. by Jim Bones, Jr. ; text by John Graves. College Station : Texas A&M University Press, [1975]
Texas : images of the landscape / Jim Bones. Englewood, CO. : Westcliffe Publishers, c1986.
Texas west of the Pecos : photographs and text / by Jim Bones, Jr.College Station, TX : Texas A & M University Press, c1981.
Texas wildflowers : a portfolio. Austin, Tex. : Encino Press, c1979.
Texas wild : the land, plants, and animals of the Lone Star State / by Richard Phelan ; photos. by Jim Bones. Excalibur Books, c1976.
Contemporary Texas : a photographic portrait / Martha A. Sandweiss, Roy Flukinger, Anne W. Tucker [editors] ; essay by Stephen Harrigan ; photography by Jim Bones ... [et al.]. Austin, Tex. : Texas Monthly Press, c1986.

Jim was a Dobie Paisano Fellow in 1972.
Jim also has archival material at Texas State University.

Background information on some of the materials available on this site:

Texas Geological Surveys:
Includes the publications of the First, Second, and Third (known as the "Dumble Survey") Geologic Surveys of Texas, the first official State investigations of its lands and potential. Due to the intense political forces surrounding the implications for development and the value of State Lands, the existence of these Surveys
and the actions and publications of the individuals involved created strong interest and turbulence.  None of the surveys survived for long. After the turn of the century, and concurrent with the discovery of Spindletop, a University of Texas Mineral Survey was created by the Legislature under the direction of William Battle Phillips. The idea was that by placing the Survey under the umbrella of the University, the “parsimonious legislators” as R.T. Hill described them, would not be able to kill it. In 1909, later legislation created the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, which has had a long and distinguished history of its own.

US Geological Survey publications:
Since Texas joined the United States under unusual circumstances, it did not cede its undeveloped land to the federal government.  This limited somewhat the early work of the US Geological Survey in Texas, primarily to topographic mapping in areas of intense economic interest.  Nevertheless, some of the early USGS publications on Texas are landmarks.  This suite includes two by Robert Thomas Hill.  Hill was a geologist of national prominence, and he had a long and stormy career in Texas, both with the USGS and the Texas Survey, as well as a brief stint on the faculty.  His work on the Black and Grand Prairies of Texas and the Llano Estacado are still referred to today.  Phillip B. King’s work on the Marathon region is also a landmark of early reconnaissance, and Tom Taylor’s short analysis of the failure of the Austin dam was a thorough and revealing piece of research. Other USGS documents include the Texas parts of the Folio Atlas of the United States.
The full suite of the Folio Atlas series can also be found at the Texas A&M web site.
See the USGS Publications Warehouse for additional online access to USGS publications.

The Jackson School of Geosciences and the Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin

There are several publications from the University of Texas Dept. of Geological Sciences. These include the volumes of the Annual Departmental Newsletter which are NOT available on the Jackson School web site. The remainder can be found here.
There are other materials published by the Department of Geological Sciences, including building dedication and festschrift or workshop type publications.

Texas Bureau of Economic Geology

The Texas Bureau of Economic Geology celebrated its Centennial in 2009, and the bulk of the material in Virtual Landscapes consists of the amazing publishing legacy of this agency. For more information about the BEG, see
and for more information on the Library’s BEG holdings

Texas Water Development Board and its predecessors

We have been working cooperatively with the Texas Water Development Board to supplement their online offerings, focusing on WPA reports on Texas county water records and selected TWDB Report and Bulletin Series.
For more TWDB reports see:
For more information on the history and publications record of the Board, see:

Austin Geological Society

The leadership of the AGS has given permission for us to add their out-of-print guidebooks to our site.
See for more information on AGS activities.

Other Materials

There are also a number of items which are included which do not conform to the group of publishers above, and these miscellaneous documents are either supportive of the other materials, or illustrative of early historical or cultural work on the earth sciences in the state or the Southwest.

They include, among others, Marcou’s early treatise on the Geology of North America, and an investigation of an overland railroad route, one of many, which were fundamental to the territorial expansions. There is also a document meant to complete some of the work of Shumard truncated by the Civil War, a tract illustrating the bitter political battles that raged over the early Texas Surveys, and a satire piece which looks suspiciously like publications produced at Baylor in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.  We hope they will be useful and informative.


Handbook of Texas links:

Texas Surveys