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Jean-Baptiste-Armand-Louis-Leonce Elie de Beaumont

Geologist, b. Sept. 25, 1798; d. Sept. 21, 1874

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Elie de Beaumont, JEAN-BAPTISTE-ARMAND-LOUIS-LÉONCE, geologist, b. at Canon (Dep. Calvados), near Caen, France, September 25, 1798; d. at Canon, September 21, 1874. He made his preliminary studies at the Seminaire Henri IV in Paris, and after successfully completing the course at the Ecole Polytechnique devoted himself in 1819 to mineralogy at the Ecole des Mines. His professor of geology, Brochant de Villiers, in 1822, chose him and his fellow-student Dufrénoy as companions on a tour to England, to study the mines of the country and to become acquainted with the British methods of geological surveying. After their return, Elie de Beaumont published a series of papers in conjunction with Dufrénoy in the “Annales des Mines” (1824-1830) which were afterwards republished under the title “Voyage metallurgique en Angleterre”, 2 vols. (Paris, 1837-39). In 1825 the two young geologists began the preparation of a geological map of France. This great work, carried on, first under the direction of de Villiers and afterwards independently, required eighteen years for its completion. Its publication was an event of much importance in the development of geology in France and established the reputation of its authors. Later and more complete editions were afterwards issued and Elie de Beaumont continued to direct the work of the special geological survey until his death.

In 1827 he was elected professor of geology at the Ecole des Mines and in 1832 was appointed to the same chair in the College de France. In 1833 he became chief engineer of mines and some years later succeeded de Villiers as general inspector of mines. He received many honors during his long career in recognition of his scientific achievements. He was admitted to the Academie des Sciences in 1835 and succeeded Arago in 1853 as its perpetual secretary. He served as President of the Geological Society of France and in 1861 became Vice-President of the Conseil General des Mines. He was made a Senator of France in 1852 and during the Second Empire a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

His fame extended throughout Europe. His extensive field observations, in connection with his surveys and his epoch-making work on the age and origin of mountain systems, constitute his chief contributions to geology. A paper published by him, as early as 1829, in the “Annales” of the Academy, may be regarded as the starting point of modern views on mountain structure. His observations and theories on the subject are developed in detail in his “Notice sur les systemes des montagnes”, 3 vols. (1852). Elie de Beaumont was a man of ardent faith and great integrity of life. In all his official positions he was conspicuous for his fairness and consideration for his colleagues. He was also the author of “Observations sur les différentes formations dans le système des Vosges”, Paris, 1829; “Mémoires pour servir à une description géologique de la France” (with Dufrenoy), 4 vols., Paris, 1830-38; “Recherches sur quelques-unes des révolutions de la surface du globe”, Paris, 1834; “Explications de la carte geologique de la France“, Paris, Part I, 1841; Part II-IV, 1848-78 (with Dufrénoy).


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