Logan was born in Montreal, Quebec and studied at the university of Edinburgh. He started teaching himself geology in 1831, when he took over the running of a colliery in Swansea. He produced a geological map of the south Wales coalfield, and gave his opinion that the layer of clay under the coalfield was the old soil in which grew the plants from which the coal was formed.
His abilities as a geologist were noticed, and in 1842 he was asked to establish the Geological Survey of Canada. He continued as director until 1869. During this time he described the Laurentian rocks of the Laurentian mountains in Canada and of the Adirondacks in the state of New York.
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