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Guettard

Guettard

Guettard, Jean-Étienne, 1715-86, French geologist, botanist, and natural historian. He was curator of the natural history collection of the French scientist René de Réaumur (1741) and a member of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris (1742). From 1747 to 1752 he was médecin botaniste to the French prince Louis, duc d'Orléans, and later was also supported by Louis's son Louis-Philippe. He discovered the volcanic nature of the Auvergne region in France, mapped the mineralogical distributions of much of Europe, and collaborated with the French scientist Antoine Lavoisier on the preparation of a geological survey of France.
Jean-Étienne Guettard (September 22, 1715January 7, 1786), French naturalist and mineralogist, was born at Etampes.

In boyhood, he gained a knowledge of plants from his grandfather, who was an apothecary, and later he qualified as a doctor in medicine. Pursuing the study of botany in various parts of France and other countries, he began to take notice of the relation between the distribution of plants and the soils and subsoils. In this way his attention came to be directed to minerals and rocks.

In 1746, he communicated to the Academy of Sciences in Paris a memoir on the distribution of minerals and rocks, and this was accompanied by a map on which he had recorded his observations. He thus, as remarked by W. D. Conybeare, first carried into execution the idea, proposed by of his journeys he made a large collection of fossils and figured many of them, but he had no clear ideas about the sequence of strata.

He made observations also on the degradation of mountains by rain, rivers and sea; and he was the first to ascertain the existence of former volcanoes in the district of Auvergne. He died in Paris on the 7th of January 1786.

His publications include:

  • Observations sur les plantes (2 vols, 1747)
  • Histoire de la découverte faite en France de matières semblables à celles dont la porcelaine de la Chine est composée (1765)
  • Mémoires sur différentes parties des sciences et arts (5 vols, 1768-1783)
  • Mémoires sur la minéralogie du Dauphiné (2 vols, 1779).
  • Atlas et description minéralogiques de la France (1780)

See The Founders of Geology, by Sir A Geikie (1897).

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