The Geology Division

Historical Notes



The Geology Division is one of the first divisions of the National Museum, along with other natural sciences like botany, entomology, ichthyology, herpetology and mammalogy. In the early years of the National Museum, it was not considered as a division until 1947 when the National Museum was recreated with a status of a bureau by virtue of Executive Order No. 94. Hence, in 1947, it was given the name of Geology-Paleontology Division with Mr. Inocentes Paniza as the first chief geologist. It had three sections; namely, Structural Geology, Dynamic Geology, and Paleontology.

At the start, the focus of activities was the buildup of collections of mammalian fossils like elephant and rhinoceros in Iloilo, Pangasinan, Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley, side by side with an extensive mapping of Pleistocene sediments in an attempt to discover the earliest man in the Philippines. The meager collection that survived the war was rehabilitated and was augmented mainly through field expeditions, donations, purchases and exchanges with other museums. Most of the donations came from the Bureau of Mines.

In the mid-SOs, the discovery of fossil elephant and rhinoceros led to the conduct of more intensive studies on mammalian fossils in Cabarruyan Island and in Kalinga-Apayao where 117 fragments of fossilized elephant bones were found. In the following decade, research work including geologic mapping, specimen collection and identification, were concentrated in Tabon Caves in Palawan, Iloilo, Cagayan Valley, Samar, and Pangasinan where Pleistocene sediments yielded large amounts of fossils. More than 150 mammalian fossils were recovered in Cagayan and Pangasinan alone. Such discovery of fossils associated with man-made flake tools had brought credence to the theory that the prehistory of the Philippines dates back to almost half a million years.

Under the Martial Law rule, the name of the Division was changed to Geology Division, with Paleontology, Geological Survey, and Petrology and Mineralogy as its three sections. A new breed of geologists helped to beef up the collections of rocks, minerals and fossils. Collection of mammalian fossils particularly in Cagayan was also intensified in the belief that the remains may have been associated with the Pleistocene Man, since a new species of Pleistocene pig and fragments of fossilized mammals were recovered in this area by National Museum paleontologist Silvio Lopez along with other geologists.

Aside from its massive specimen collection drive, the Division was immersed in a host of researches documenting the results of their expeditions. Public exhibitions likewise formed a large part of information dissemination efforts as their discoveries were shown in many different areas in various styles or formats.

In order to hasten rock and mineral collections, the Geology Division launched the so-called "Collections from Different Mining Companies Project" which drew much attention frorn different mining companies in the Philippines. Eventually, these companies donated a considerable number of specimens to the National Museum.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
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