The Geological Commission of Brazil (GCB) was created on April 30, 1875, within the Ministry of Agriculture in order to promote a systematic survey of Brazilian territory. Despite the fact that other scientific traditions were already present in Brazilian geology-e.g., the German and the French ones-the GCB model was inspired by the North American Geological Surveys. As the North American Surveys usually combined geology, topography, and agriculture, this model fit very well into Brazilian needs at that moment, for the country was experiencing intense economic development caused by the coffee agriculture boom, creating a strong demand for land with the appropriate soil for growing coffee. For the organization of the GCB the Brazilian government accepted a proposal made by the Canadian-born Charles Frederic Hartt (Fredericton, New Brunswick 1840-Rio de Janeiro, 1878), who was familiar both with Brazil and the North American Geological Surveys. Hartt had visited Brazil in 1865 as a member of the Thayer Expedition with Louis Agassiz. During the 32 month existence of the Commission, Hartt and the GCB staff covered a large part of the Brazilian Empire, collecting thousands of samples and preparing dozens of papers and reports most of which, unfortunately, remained unpublished. The demise of the GCB was ordered in 1878 by a new ministry for budgetary reasons. Nevertheless, it provided an institutional model which inspired the later Geographical and Geological Commission of Sao Paulo (1886) as well as the Geological and Mineralogical Survey of Brazil (1907), which, in various manifestations, has continued to the present day.

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