Joseph Beete Jukes studied geology at Cambridge University under Adam Sedgwick at a time when Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830-1833) revitalized the subject and when Darwin was engaged in the voyage of the Beagle (1831-1836). He owed his first professional position in Newfoundland to the patronage of Sedgwick, Lyell, Darwin and others both in Cambridge and in London, and his appointment as naturalist on H.M.S. Fly (1842-1846), to survey the Great Barrier Reef of Australia to these same supporters. Darwin published his coral reef theory in 1838, and this provided the intellectual basis for Jukes's work. In New South Wales Jukes was met by another of Sedgwick's pupils, W. B. Clarke, the leading earth scientist in the colony. Clarke himself had recently met J. D. Dana, the reef geologist on the Wilkes Expedition, who was also enthusiastic for Darwin's theory. Jukes's reef work was characterised both by Darwin's theoretical insights, which he supported but did not extend, and Sedgwick's pragmatic commitment to empirical investigation. Jukes's work in Australia, and indeed his subsequent career until his tragic death in 1869, illustrates both the intellectual and the practical consequences of his early association with the Cambridge geology school, and the way in which his mentor Sedgwick (and through him the leading geologists of the time - Darwin, Lyell and Murchison) determined his career and influenced his views. His Great Barrier Reef research, published in 1847, as well as his association with Clarke, helped to mould the development of geology in colonial New South Wales into the mould of metropolitan science in general and that of Sedgwick's Cambridge in particular.

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